Lost Christmas parcels 'prompt two-and-a-half-hour hunt'

Father Christmas flies over Lake Geneva Image copyright EPA
Image caption Those not using the traditional method of Christmas delivery might need to keep a receipt

Online shoppers who have a problem with their delivery will have to spend an average of two-and-a-half hours sorting it out, Citizens Advice has warned.

Last Christmas, consumers who were not compensated were out of pocket by an average of £30 a parcel due to damaged or lost goods, hours wasted and time away from work, it said.

The charity said it is retailers' duty to solve delivery problems.

Up to 390 million parcels will be dealt with in the run-up to Christmas 2016.

The figure covers all parcels being handled by delivery companies and Royal Mail in November and December.

The charity found UK consumers had 4.8 million delivery problems last Christmas and spent 11.8 million hours trying to resolve them.

Problems meant customers were left £148m out of pocket overall.

Citizens Advice anticipates an increase in requests for help, after calls rose by a third last year.

The charity analysed hundreds of calls about deliveries made to them over the past 12 months.

It found the most common problem reported by members of the public was difficulty getting through to the delivery company, along with confusion about responsibility, compensation and unexpected handling fees on parcels from outside the EU.

Off to the depot

Tom MacInnes from Citizens Advice said of the 1,600 people the charity spoke to, one had spent £200 on the phone to a delivery company.

"As well as the money, it's the time," he said.

"Two and a half hours phoning delivery companies, waiting in, trying to find where things are, going to depots.

"The first and most important thing you should do is take it up with the retailer."

On how to avoid delivery problems, the charity said:

  • If something fails to arrive, contact the seller. It should chase the parcel company and find out where it is
  • If your item went missing after being delivered to a place to which you didn't agree, the retailer should replace or refund it. Citizens Advice has a template letter to use to write to the company and ask
  • If posting a gift, keep both the receipt and the proof of posting from the Post Office or delivery company
  • For valuable items, use an insured service where the terms and conditions explain what is and is not covered
  • Post might be delayed by public holidays or bad weather. But you can claim compensation for delays over working days or complete loss
  • If using a courier service, check the tracking services on its website

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