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Lost parcel? Here's what to do next

It’s safe to say we’re all spending a lot more time shopping online these days. Indeed, the Office of National Statistics says that online sales make up a quarter (24.2% in August 2022) of all retail sales.

But what happens with a lost parcel or a parcel stolen from your doorstep? Here's what to do if your parcel goes missing.

A delivery driver handling a parcel


Lost parcel? What to do first

First, you should get in touch with the retailer you bought your item from.

They’re responsible for getting the package to you on time. Your contract is with them, not with the courier or delivery company who shipped it.

So, no matter what delivery company you’re expecting, it’s for the seller to deal with if something you’ve ordered hasn’t arrived.


Royal Mail strikes

Before contacting the seller, you should check who the parcel is being delivered by. It's possible your post has been delayed by Royal Mail strikes rather than lost.

With potential strikes planned throughout October, November and December in 2022, there could be major disruptions in deliveries.


Parcel stolen from doorstep? Here’s what to do

Let's say you’re not home and a courier has sent a photo of your parcel left on your doorstep. But when you get home, you can’t find it.

You may have been asked to let the retailer or courier know there’s a safe place for your parcel, such as in a garden outbuilding. If they say they’ve left it in that safe place, then it’s your responsibility if it goes missing.

On the other hand, you might not have told them about a safe place to leave the parcel. If they say they’ve left it ‘behind a bin’ or somewhere else ‘safe’ then it should be the retailer’s responsibility to provide a replacement.


Do police investigate missing parcels?

The police might sometimes investigate a missing parcel.

You need to report the stolen parcel to the police and if you’ve been burgled, call 101.

Without evidence from witnesses or footage from a security camera/smart doorbell, it might be hard for anything further to happen. But it does let the police build a picture of these incidents in your neighbourhood.

It may be the case that it was stolen after a courier left it or maybe it was left with a neighbour who’s now denying it.

Some delivery companies send you a picture of the parcel outside your house. If you have any photo evidence like this, you should share it with the police to help build your case.


Damaged parcel? What to do

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the retailer you bought from is responsible for your parcel’s safe arrival. If it’s damaged, you’ve got 2 options:

  • You could refuse the delivery if you’re there to do so.
  • Alternatively, take plenty of photos of the damage and get in touch with the retailer to let them know.

If they put the blame on you for the damage, it’s up to them to prove it.


Lost or damaged parcel advice from couriers

Each company has its own rules and advice for missing or damaged parcels. So contact whoever delivered your parcel to find out what you should do next.

Here is what some delivery companies say:


DHL lost or damaged parcel

If a parcel is damaged, take photos of what's happened as well as the shipping label and the filling material. Also, ask the shipper for photo evidence of the parcel before it was posted.

Contact your local DHL customer service team. They should ask you for the 10-digit Air Waybill (AWB) number, photos and details about the sender and receiver.

Missing packages are handled slightly differently. You need to go through a similar process and contact your local customer service team to tell them the item has gone missing. Again, you may be asked for your AWB number as a basic form of verification.

They then investigate the case and you should hear back in 3 days if you can make a claim or not.

If you do need to make a claim, you can request a claims template form.


DPD lost or damaged parcel

You can open an enquiry on the DPD website for a missing or damaged parcel. DPD should ask you for your information and DPD reference number.

You need to do this within 14 days of delivery if there's damage to all or part of the parcel. Or if part of it has been lost. In all other cases, you have 28 days.


Evri lost or damaged parcel

Evri was originally known as Hermes.

If a parcel is damaged or lost, Evri advises contacting its customer service team for more help.


Royal Mail lost or damaged parcel

If something is lost, damaged, delayed or arrives with contents missing you may be able to claim compensation by filling out a claims form.

You need details including:

  • The name and address of the sender and recipient
  • The posting service used
  • The date and location of sending
  • Proof of sending
  • Images of any damage

Again, keep up-to-date with any potential Royal Mail strikes to see if your parcel has been delayed rather than lost.


Yodel lost or damaged parcel

If a parcel is missing or damaged, Yodel suggests contacting it via its web chat service and checking with the sender.


UPS lost or damaged parcel

You can file a claim for a missing or damaged parcel online with UPS. It needs to be at least 24 hours after a parcel is expected to have arrived.


Does my credit card protect me if my parcel is lost?

If you’ve used a credit card for your online purchases, the transactions should be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

Normally the retailer you bought the item from is responsible for getting it to you safely. When you buy something with a credit card, the retailer and the credit card company are both liable, giving you extra protection.

So, let’s say the retailer is at fault for a missing delivery but goes bust before you can get your money back or a replacement. Your credit card issuer should step in to make things right.

Section 75 applies for goods and services costing between £100 and £30,000. There’s is a caveat here, though – it’s the value of each item and service that counts, not the total.

So if you ordered 3 coats costing £75 each, making a total of £225, the card company might play hardball. They might argue that none of the items individually costs £100 or more.

It’s still worth asking the question, though – your card company could still cover you.


Does PayPal protect me if my parcel is damaged or lost?

PayPal operates a little differently from debit and credit cards. It has its own form of protection called PayPal Buyer Protection.

This protection means that if your purchase doesn’t arrive or doesn’t match the retailer’s description, PayPal could reimburse you. But the protection doesn’t cover all your transactions via PayPal.

Some of the things PayPal Buyer Protection doesn't cover are:

  • Cars
  • Things bought in person
  • Money sent to family and friends
  • Disputes that are made more than 180 days after the purchase
  • Property

Some sellers might ask you to send them money via the 'friends and family' option. This is likely because sellers have to pay a fee to receive money through the 'good and services' option. But this risks leaving you without protection. Unless you 100% trust the retailer, send money via the 'goods and services' option.


Can I claim on my home insurance for a stolen parcel?

If your parcel was left in an agreed safe place and has still gone missing, that’s your responsibility. Your home insurance provider is unlikely to support any claim you make.

As mentioned earlier, if the courier left it somewhere that wasn’t previously agreed on and it’s now gone, contact the retailer. They should replace it and then claim on their business insurance for any losses.

If a thief breaks into your home to steal the parcel, you could make a home insurance claim. But it’s worth bearing in mind any excess you need to pay in the event of a home insurance claim.

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What can I do to stop my parcel from getting lost or stolen?

Prevention is always better than cure. So you should try to do everything possible to prevent damaged or lost post.

Here are a few quick ways to lower the risk of a lost or damaged parcel:

  • Improve your security. A Ring doorbell, security camera or any other kind of device can deter thieves from taking parcels. They can also track what happens to a parcel after it’s delivered. There are lots of home security devices to choose from, at different prices.
  • Nominate a safe place for deliveries. Most delivery companies let you name a safe place where they can leave parcels if you’re not in. Choose somewhere secure and out of sight.
  • Keep track of when a delivery is arriving. You should be given a tracking code with the date and time of delivery. If you won’t be in, take measures to have the parcel delivered on another day or to a safe place, instead.
  • Tell your courier which neighbour can take your parcel for you. You can usually name a neighbour to take in a package for you if you’re not home.