woman on the phone with a damaged parcel

What are my rights if my online order is late, missing, or faulty?

author: Adele Kitchen

By Adele Kitchen

It can be frustrating waiting for a parcel to arrive, especially if it’s running late, appears to have gone missing or turns up damaged. So, we look into your consumer rights when buying goods online, to see what can be done about it. 

Can I get a refund if my online order is late? 

Yes, under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the seller should deliver your parcel “within a reasonable time” (usually within 30 days from the point of purchase, unless otherwise stated). So, if you’ve been waiting more than 30 days for your parcel to arrive, you are within your rights to cancel your order and request a full refund.  

You are entitled to cancel and request a refund if the retailer agreed to an essential delivery date that wasn’t met. For example, if it was essential to receive a birthday cake by a certain date.  

Bear in mind, different rules apply for perishable items (like flowers) and personalised items, so you should check the retailer’s terms and conditions for more information about these products.  

What are my rights if my parcel is missing? 

Your contract is with the seller, so it’s their responsibility to deliver the parcel. If you suspect your parcel has gone missing, you should contact them to see if they can track it. If they used a courier, they should liaise with the courier for you.  

If the seller says they’ve delivered it or they can’t trace it, you may be able to get a refund in some cases. 

For instance, you can request a refund or replacement if the retailer has left your parcel somewhere you didn’t ask them to, and it has gone missing. Delivering it to a location without your permission is classed as a breach of contract. 

But if you provided instructions for your parcel to be delivered to a certain place (like a porch or with a neighbour), the retailer isn’t responsible if they deliver it correctly and it disappears afterward. 

What should I do if it has been stolen? 

If your parcel has been stolen, you should contact the police and the retailer. Some (but not all) retailers may send you a free replacement as a gesture of goodwill. 

Can I request a redelivery? 

Yes, you can request redelivery if your item didn’t turn up: 

  • by an agreed date  
  • within 30 days of making the purchase. 

If you request a redelivery and a second date also isn’t met, you can cancel your order and request a full refund. You can complain to the retailer over the phone or in writing. Here’s a letter template that you can use. 

What are my rights if my parcel is faulty? 

If your parcel arrives in the post damaged or faulty you should complain to the retailer as soon as possible (not the courier), as your contract is with them. 

Under The Consumer Rights Act 2015, you can reject and get a refund for goods that fit any of these criteria: 

  • Unsatisfactory quality (e.g., damaged or faulty) 
  • Unfit for purpose  
  • Not as described at the time of purchase  

However, this legal right only lasts for 30 days from the date you buy your product. Some retailers may extend the refund period though. If not, you can ask them to repair or replace your item at their cost in the first instance - then request a full or partial refund if this fails. 

Note, this right doesn’t apply to digital downloads (like games or music). 

Tip: It’s worth sending a complaint in writing and including photos of the damaged product, to back up your claim that it was faulty when you bought it. 

Do I have to pay to return faulty goods? 

No, the cost of sending faulty goods back for a refund, repair, or replacement should be met by the seller. Here is a handy letter template you can use if the retailer is insisting you pay. 

You should also get a refund for your initial delivery cost if you contact the retailer in good time.   

What if I have signed for a delivery on a faulty item? 

If you’ve signed for a delivery and later opened the box to find the item is damaged or faulty, you still have the same rights to a refund or replacement. To be on the safe side though, it’s best to change the wording on the delivery note to “goods received but not examined”. 

What if I’m not happy with the seller’s response? 

If you have requested a refund and aren’t happy with the seller’s response, you could take the matter further if you wish. Read on to find out what your options are, or contact Citizens Advice for more information. 

What if I no longer want the goods? 

If you no longer want the item you purchased online (even if it isn’t faulty), you have the right to change your mind. You will need to inform the retailer within 14 days of receiving the parcel. Then you have another 14 days to return it to them. Bear in mind that perishable and personalised goods are excluded from these rules.  

Note, if you purchased goods from a company based outside of the UK, your rights might be different. In that case, it’d be best to check the seller’s terms and conditions.  

Read on for 23 insider tips to save more than £300 a year on shopping online. 

Disclaimer: We make every effort to ensure that content is correct at the time of publication. Please note that information published on this website does not constitute financial advice, and we aren’t responsible for the content of any external sites.

woman on the phone with a damaged parcel woman on the phone with a damaged parcel