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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 third of all retail sales. 

But what happens with a lost parcel or a parcel stolen from the 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 to knock on your door, it’s for the seller to deal with if something you’ve ordered hasn’t arrived. 


Parcel stolen from doorstep? Here’s what to do

Parcel missing? 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.

If you let the retailer or courier know there’s a safe place for your parcel, such as in a garden outbuilding, and 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 simply say they’ve left it ‘behind a bin’ or somewhere else ‘safe’ then it should be retailer’s responsibility to provide you with a replacement.


Do police investigate missing parcels?

The police may investigate a missing parcel. 

You’ll 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 or smart doorbell, it might be hard for anything further to happen. But it does let the police build up 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 purchased from is responsible for your parcel’s safe arrival. If it’s damaged, you’ve got two options.

  • One is to reject 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 about it.

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 has happened. Also ask the shipper for photo evidence of the parcel before it was posted. Contact your local DHL customer service team, you’ll be asked for the 10-digit Air Waybill (AWB) number, photos, and details about the sender and receiver.

Missing packages are handled slightly differently but you’ll need to go through a similar process and contact your local customer service team to tell them where the item has gone missing. The case should be investigated and you should hear back in three days if you can make a claim or not. If you do need to make one, 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. You need to do this within 14 days of delivery if there is damage to all or part of the parcel, or part of it has been lost. In all other cases you have 28 days.   

Hermes lost or damaged parcel

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

Royal Mail lost or damaged parcel

If something is lost, damaged, delayed, or arrives with some of the contents missing you may be able to claim compensation by filling out a claims form. You’ll need details including the name address of the sender and recipient, the posting service used and date and location of sending, and proof of sending and images of any damage that has happened.  

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 a 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 and in one piece. 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 delivery that never shows but goes bust before you can get your money back or get 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 one caveat here, though – it’s the value of each item and service that counts, not the total.

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

It’s still worth asking the question, though – your card company might 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 it 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 won’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.

It’s great to have that extra protection there, but it won’t cover everything. 


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

If it was left in an agreed safe place and has subsequently 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 and it’s now gone, you should 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’ll 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 lost parcels or things getting damaged. 

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

  • Improve your security: a Ringdoor bell, a security camera, or any other kind of device can deter thieves from taking parcels and can 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 parcels can be left if you’re not in. Choose somewhere out of sight and secure. 
  • Keep track of when a delivery is arriving: you should be given a tracking code so you’ll know the day and time or a parcel being delivered. 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 a parcel in: you can usually name a neighbour to take in a package for you if you’re not home.