A national shortage of delivery drivers means that Christmas shoppers may not receive their gift orders on time.
Amazon appears to be the worst affected retailer. It uses Hermes, which also serves Debenhams, Zara, John Lewis, Tesco, Asda, and ASOS. The social media feeds of courier firms DPD and Yodel were also registering complaints.
Amazon’s Twitter feed has been flooded with complaints in the past week and the company may face an investigation over the delays.
Customers who pay £79 a year for Amazon’s premium delivery service say they have been waiting weeks for orders that were supposed to arrive within one day.
A national shortage of delivery drivers means that Christmas shoppers may not receive their gift orders on time
And with Christmas now just three working days away, it is feared that the courier services will not be able to clear the backlog of orders in time for December 25.
Those who have left their online shopping until the last minute and have yet to order could also end up disappointed if Amazon fails to keep its one-day promise.
Will my order arrive before Christmas?
Experts say relying on last-minute online orders is a gamble and that shoppers should put a contingency plan in place.
Amazon’s last delivery day before Christmas is Sunday, December 24. It claims that if Prime subscribers place an order on Saturday (December 23) they will receive their gifts in time for Christmas.
Amazon also promises that shoppers using standard delivery who order tomorrow will receive their gifts by Sunday.
But you are taking a risk. Drivers are expected to drop off up to 200 parcels a day but have been struggling to meet this quota, and recent bouts of bad weather have not helped.
Unhappy customers have taken to social media in their droves to complain. On Twitter, Lianne Troughton said that her Amazon Prime membership is a ‘waste of money’ as she is still waiting for a package she ordered on December 7.
Rik Mullins wrote: ‘@myhermes I have just received notification of a parcel delivered from Amazon through yourselves. Says successfully delivered to porch. I have no porch!’
James Daley, of consumer group Fairer Finance, says: ‘People will have to take matters into their own hands as time goes on and buy in-store to make sure their Christmas goes to plan.’
Amazon’s last delivery day before Christmas is Sunday, December 24. It claims that if Prime subscribers place an order on Saturday (December 23) they will receive their gifts in time
What are my rights if it doesn’t turn up?
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, online shoppers are eligible for a full refund if their order arrives later than promised. Even if the delay is down to the courier, the retailer is still responsible.
If your parcel is late, you should try to find out where it is by calling the courier’s customer service helpline or using their online tracking service.
If you bought from Amazon, contact its customer service team and send a firmly-worded letter or email saying it did not deliver on its commitment to you.
You have the right to cancel your original order within 14 calendar days of making the order and get a full refund. Or, if the item eventually arrives, you can return it for a refund.
Under Amazon’s customer service policy, customers will also be eligible for a free month of Amazon Prime membership if their order is late.
This entitles you to free shipping and unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Video.
Call 0800 279 7234 or email email@example.com.
If you took time off work to wait in for a delivery that never showed up you may also be entitled to compensation.
If you had to buy the gift elsewhere to ensure you have it in time for Christmas and it cost more than you paid online, ask the retailer to refund you the difference.
If it refuses, go to the retail ombudsman. Visit retailadr.org.uk or call 020 3540 8063.
Pressure: Drivers are expected to drop off up to 200 parcels a day but have been struggling to meet this quota, and recent bouts of bad weather have not helped
How good is Amazon’s one-day promise?
Amazon Prime subscribers should receive an unlimited one-day delivery service at no extra cost.
But Amazon’s small print reveals that one day does not always mean one day. In fact, you could have to wait three days.
In its terms and conditions Amazon says: ‘If you choose One-Day Delivery, your order will be dispatched with the intention that it’s delivered one day after dispatch.’
This means that if you pay for an item late on a Friday, for example, it may not be dispatched until Saturday.
Not all parcels are delivered on Sundays. So it could mean you do not receive your order until Monday, when it could show up as late as 9pm.
If you are a Prime customer you should get a guaranteed delivery date when placing an order.
This will depend on the time of day that you make the purchase, your delivery address and whether the item is in stock.
Will Amazon be held responsible?
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is considering an inquiry into whether Amazon is breaching its delivery commitments. It has received five complaints about the online retailer breaking delivery pledges in the past few weeks.
In 2012, the ASA received three complaints about the same issue. The watchdog ruled then that the ‘one-day guarantee’ claim was misleading as it did not make clear that it was referring to one day after dispatch. It said the retailer should offer more clarity.
A spokesman for the ASA says: ‘We have received a handful of complaints about Amazon parcel deliveries and we are at the initial assessment stage.
‘We have not yet made a decision on whether the complaints warrant an investigation’.
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