Consumer complaint about goods not having been delivered (England and Wales)

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What is a templatw consumer complaint about goods not having been delivered (England and Wales), and when do you need one?

Use this letter for chasing a trader from whom you ordered goods (and may already have paid), but whose goods have not been delivered on time to you.

If you’re a business wanting to complain about another business, not a consumer, please use our separate business complaints suites.

You might have a concern that the non-delivery is caused by a problem with the delivery/courier provider and not the retailer. But even here, you should complain to the retailer, since it is the retailer with whom you contracted and who therefore remains responsible under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 for the goods until they have been delivered safely:

  • to you, or
  • to someone you’ve nominated to accept them on your behalf, or
  • to your designated safe place,

in good condition.

If you paid additional delivery charges for expedited or special delivery and your order arrived, eventually and later than agreed, you can claim back the additional delivery cost, since you never received its benefit.

If it transpires that your goods were despatched in good order from the retailer but have since been lost or stolen while in transit, your rights will depend on whether you authorised the retailer/or the courier to leave your goods:

  • with someone else (and they can prove that they did deliver them to that person) or
  • in your designated safe place (and again, they can prove the item reached your safe place).

Which? has some great guidance on what to do if parcels go astray and your consumer rights when they do. You can access that guidance here.

What if the delivery’s just late?

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, goods must be delivered from a retailer within a default period of 30 days, unless:

  • you’ve agreed to a longer delivery period or
  • you agreed an expedited delivery arrangement because the timing of receipt was essential (which the seller either knew – because you made that clear when you placed the order, or, it would have been obvious from the circumstances, e.g. a wedding dress is vital for a wedding day.

If none of the above exceptions apply, then once those 30 days are up, if you still haven’t received the goods, you have the right to end the sales contract and require a full refund.

You can cancel and ask for your money back if you don’t get the item either:

  • within 30 days of buying it
  • on the date you agreed with the seller - if it was essential to receive it by then (for example, for an event)
  • on the date of the second chance delivery you agreed with the seller

Taking your complaint further

If you’re not satisfied with the response you get from the seller, then you can:

  • find out if they have an ombudsman or other professional standards body to whom you can complain (sadly there isn’t really one for standard retailers); or
  • you could consider complaining to Trading Standards; (Bear in mind, though, that your local trading standards department's role is to address the issue with the retailer, not to get your money back), or
  • you could, depending on the supplier’s terms, suggest alternative dispute resolution/mediation.
  • You might be able to rely on your card or payment provider for help, if you paid by a credit or debit card, you used a provider like Paypal, or your purchase was financed by a hire purchase company.
  • Finally, you can consider a claim brought in the courts, though this can be costly and take some time to be heard.

Before taking any of those steps, it is highly advisable to see if you can get the seller to provide you with what’s often called a ‘letter of deadlock’, essentially, a letter confirming that the seller has not been able to resolve your complaint and you remain dissatisfied.

This is a key piece of evidence, in your favour, that supports you seeking assistance from the above solution providers, proving that you have reasonably tried to reach a resolution on your own and been unable to do so.

The seller’s ceased trading

If this is the reason for the non-delivery, it can be very tricky to get either your goods or a refund. Check the Companies House website (for limited companies) or the Insolvency Register (sole traders and partnerships) to see whether your seller’s gone out of business. If they have, you can try to get your money back by:

  • registering a claim as a creditor – complete the form providing details of what you are owed; send it to the administrator dealing with the trader’s debts (you can usually find their details on the seller’s website, as they will typically be clearly displayed there for exactly this purpose), or
  • if you paid with a credit card and/or by Paypal, and the item cost more than £100, you can apply for a ‘Section 75 claim’ from your credit card provider
  • if you paid with a debit card, you should be able to ask for ‘chargeback’ from your bank or card provider. This is not a well-known solution and you may need to persevere with bank staff who may not be familiar with us. You may need to ask to talk to a manager.

Help now and later

If you’d like help with your complaint and/or considering your options, you can use our speak to an adviser service, where a qualified expert can talk you through your options, and help you to decide the right next steps for you.

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