Tarantulas stuck in transit and a parcel in the pond: Which? reveals Christmas delivery disasters and the courier most likely to let you down

Pet tarantulas held overnight, a parcel thrown into a pond and laptop left in the pouring rain are just some of last year’s biggest delivery disasters, as new Which? research reveals two in five online shoppers experienced at least one issue with a delivery last Christmas. 

The consumer champion surveyed more than 1,500 people in January 2022 about their experience with deliveries between November 2021 and January 2022 and found that two in five (40%) experienced at least one issue with their delivery.

Of those who had a delivery in that period, one in seven (14%) reported their parcel was late, one in 10 (11%) said it was left outside without their permission and eight per cent said their parcel was not delivered at all.

Among the issues reported by online shoppers were some pet tarantulas being delayed and held for an extra night, laptops and expensive electronics being left on doorsteps in the pouring rain and parcels left in bins.

One respondent said they had a pair of slippers thrown over the fence and into the neighbour’s pond – despite being home at the time.

Which?’s survey found that nominating a safe place will not necessarily stop consumers from having problems with a delivery. One in four respondents (26%) who nominated a safe place for a delivery had something go wrong, with some saying their instructions were ignored altogether.

One shopper who named their enclosed front porch as their safe place instead found the parcel in the middle of the garden in torrential rain.

Amazon Logistics came top of Which?’s survey on courier firm satisfaction but Cheriece Gordon, a teacher from Nottingham, had to resort to drastic action to get refunded after her Amazon package was delivered last month without the contents inside.

After reporting the missing item – an iPad intended as a Christmas present for her son – she was told by an Amazon customer service representative to contact the police. However, Cheriece was not given a crime reference number as she was not considered the victim – it was for Amazon to file the police report.

Frustrated after days of getting nowhere, Cheriece emailed senior Amazon employees to get a resolution. Thankfully, her appeal for help worked. Cheriece has now been refunded the £679 she paid for the iPad.

She told Which?: “I have always praised Amazon for their customer service, but this time it has been absolutely horrific and quite frankly upsetting. I honestly have little faith in ordering online now.”

In a separate survey, Which? asked 3,100 UK adults how satisfied they were with the courier that delivered the most recent item they had ordered. Which?’s research found courier satisfaction levels are generally quite high as eight in ten (82%) of respondents were satisfied with the delivery overall.

However, it is when things go wrong with deliveries that people experience issues and often find themselves on shaky ground when enforcing their rights to a refund or a replacement. A quarter (26%) of people in the consumer champion’s survey said they had avoided shopping with a retailer because of its choice of courier.

DHL came bottom of Which?’s survey with 64 per cent of respondents saying they were satisfied with the delivery. One in 10 (10%) said the condition of their parcel was poor when it arrived.

At the other end of the scale, Amazon Logistics and Royal Mail were top of the survey with 89 and 86 per cent saying they were satisfied with their delivery. Amazon scored highest for communication about deliveries and condition of the parcel when it arrived.

With Christmas just weeks away, millions of people will be shopping online and relying on delivery firms to get their gifts – so it is important for consumers to know their rights if a delivery arrives damaged, late or not at all.

Customers may also get a refund from their retailer if they paid extra for a special delivery that then arrived late.

If a delivery fails to arrive, customers should immediately contact the retailer, which should either help track down their order or send a replacement. Royal Mail workers are set to strike during December, including on the two days before Christmas, potentially causing headaches for those awaiting deliveries of Christmas cards and presents.

People might not be able to claim any compensation for items that are late as a result of the strikes. This is because the majority of Royal Mail services are not guaranteed day services. For Special Delivery Guaranteed items, the guarantee will be suspended for items that are sent the day before the strike, until the industrial action is over.

Lisa Webb, Which? Consumer Law Expert, said: 

“With postal strikes looming, many consumers will be understandably worried about whether presents will arrive on time.

“Unfortunately, the festive season is peak time for late, damaged or missing parcels and we have heard about scores of delivery disasters.

“It’s important to remember that if something goes wrong with your delivery this Christmas, it’s the retailer and not the delivery company that you need to ask to fix the problem.”


Notes to Editors: 

Which? surveyed 1,569 adults in the UK about the delivery – received or expected to be received – for an item purchased online between the start of November 2021 and mid-January 2022. Fieldwork was carried out online in January 2022 by Opinium and data has been weighted to be representative of the UK population (aged 18+).

Which? surveyed 3,144 adults in the UK in September 2022 to ask about their experience with deliveries for an online order in the previous six months. Fieldwork was carried out online by Opinium and data has been weighted to be representative of the UK population (aged 18+).

Overall satisfaction with the most recent delivery



Overall percentage of satisfied consumers



Royal Mail




Evri (formerly known as Hermes)












Five essential consumer rights tips

  1. If you pay extra for special delivery and your order arrives later than agreed you can claim back the extra delivery cost because the service wasn’t delivered.

  2. If your order is late or missing, complain to the retailer that sold it to you. Even if you think it’s down to poor service from the courier, your contract is with the retailer and they are responsible for the item until it is successfully delivered.

  3. Be aware if you give permission for your delivery to be left in a specified safe place or received by a nominated neighbour and something goes wrong, you will still be considered to have received the delivery if it was delivered there. Think very carefully about those options when you’re making a purchase.

  4. If your order arrives damaged or faulty, you may be able to  return it for a refund, repair or replacement. The retailer is responsible, you shouldn’t be told to take up your damaged goods complaint with the courier company or that you’ll need to claim on the courier company’s insurance.

  5. Your delivery must be made without undue delay and within 30 days from the point of purchase unless you and the retailer agree otherwise.

Rights of replies 

An Amazon spokesperson said: We work very hard to create a great experience for our customers and we’re proud of our results in this Which? survey.

We’re not perfect, and if anyone experiences any issues they can contact our customer service team directly.

Peter Fuller, chief executive of DHL Parcel UK said the company was committed to providing excellent service and was always looking for ways to make improvements.

He said: “As part of this, we regularly speak to customers to find out how we can do better, including running monthly, fully independent, surveys. In the six month period to September 2022, our customer satisfaction score, tracking a wide range of metrics, was 88%.”

About Which?

Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.

The information in this press release is for editorial use by journalists and media outlets only. Any business seeking to reproduce information in this release should contact the Which? Endorsement Scheme team at endorsementscheme@which.co.uk.

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