What are your rights when deliveries and returns don’t arrive – and what common act could see you lose them all?

Pic: iStock

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What are your rights if you’ve returned an item by post and the company says they never received it? Or if your delivery never turned up in the first place?

Money blog reader Lee asked: “I purchased two pairs of shorts from Nike a year ago. I shortly after returned them for a refund as they didn’t suit me. Nike are saying I can’t be refunded due to them not receiving the returned items. Even though I have supplied the Royal Mail proof of postage.”

We asked consumer rights champion Scott Dixon, also known as The Complaints Resolver, to answer this one…

Scott says Lee is very unlikely to get a positive outcome in this case.

“The problem is that you have left it so long to resolve the issue. It’s highly unlikely (virtually impossible) this can be resolved for that reason – you cannot leave a complaint on missing goods in transit for a year and expect a remedy.”

Though there’s unlikely to be a positive resolution here, delivery issues are common – so Scott has walked us through people’s basic rights when things go missing…

Scott Dixon, also known as The Complaints Resolver
Image:
Scott Dixon, also known as The Complaints Resolver

Deliveries

Your contract is always with the retailer, not the courier firm, to ensure that your order is safely delivered, says Scott. If it hasn’t turned up, the first thing you need to do is to contact the retailer.

“It is their legal responsibility to make sure the item is safely delivered to you under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. They should contact the courier – who they’ve entered a contract with – and let you know what has happened to your item.

“S29 (2) of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 states the goods remain at the trader’s risk until they come into the physical possession of the consumer, or a person identified by the consumer, to take possession of the goods.”

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The retailer can either refund you or rearrange for the goods to be delivered, says Scott.

If this doesn’t work, raise a chargeback with your bank or credit card provider within 120 days of your purchase or payment to get a refund.

“You need to push hard on chargebacks and cite ‘breach of contract’ under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, as chargebacks are often rejected on the first attempt,” says Scott.

“Your bank or credit card provider will reverse the payment and give the retailer an opportunity to present their case.

“Retailers don’t like dealing with chargebacks as they are problematic and costly to resolve.”

What if you leave delivery instructions?

This could see you lose all rights.

Scott explains: “If you give specific instructions to the retailer for the item to be left in the porch, ‘leave in shed at rear’ or another designated safe place, and it is stolen, then you are responsible because the retailer and courier have simply followed your instructions.”

Returns

You have a 14-day cooling off period for all non-bespoke items under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013.

Scott says: “A retailer will usually provide a returns label or a website link to their returns policy, and give instructions for you to return goods. Usually a retailer will engage a courier firm for returns – be it Royal Mail, DHL etc etc.”

This often involves dropping the item off at a local convenience store, where labels are scanned.

“Convenience stores often say you will get a receipt by email. This isn’t always the case, leaving you high and dry if the goods go missing in transit,” warns Scott.

To protect yourself, Scott says you should follow the policy courier firms use when they deliver goods to you: take a photo of the goods at the point of handover and insist on a receipt.

Pic: iStock
Image:
Pic: iStock

“This is your proof if you need to dispute lost goods in transit,” he says.

“The retailer will push back in these cases when goods are lost in transit with a fob off saying it’s not their fault and the responsibility lies with the courier, which is blatantly untrue.”

Scott says the retailer engaged the courier firm to safely return the goods and the Consumer Rights Act 2015 applies.

“Remember, your contract is with the retailer – you’re following their return instructions. So this is on them.

“You need to push hard on this and cite ‘breach of contract’ under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to get a full refund.

“If you hit a brick wall, simply raise a chargeback with your bank or credit card provider and cite ‘breach of contract’ under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to dispute the transaction.”

As a last resort you can take your case to the Small Claims Court in England and Wales – or use the respective legal routes in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What if a company doesn’t provide specific returns instructions?

Your contract is then with the courier – but much of the above still applies with them. S49 Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that every contract to supply a service is to be treated as including a term that the trader must perform the service with reasonable care and skill.

Sky News contacted Nike for comment.

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