Royal Mail workers will go on two 48-hour strikes around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, despite being urged not to strike during the busiest shopping event of the year.

A shortage of workers has the potential to cause parcel delivery delays and items to go missing.

Nick Drewe, founder of online discounts platform Wethrift, has shared precautions to take when ordering items and the rights consumers have if their parcels go missing over the Black Friday weekend.

1.  Consider your ‘safe place’ carefully

When ordering an item, if you’re worried you won’t be at home to receive the delivery, the courier will give you options of a ‘safe place’ where  the delivery worker can leave the parcel.

If you selected specific delivery instructions, perhaps to leave the item in the shed or with a neighbour, it will be more difficult toclaim the lost parcel. This is because, when a parcel goes missing, the retailer can claim your delivery was performed as agreed. 

Therefore, it is important that consumers think carefully before entering their ‘safe place’, and try to order items they know they will be available to receive. 

2.  Check your items straight away

For any items, specifically high-value ones such as mobile phones, home appliances and other gadgets, when receiving the delivery it is always worth checking inside the package to ensure it’s the correct item. 

If your delivery contains the wrong item, then you have the right to a replacement. Therefore, the quicker you check, the quicker you can act before the item perhaps goes out of stock during such a busy time.

3.  Contact the retailer if items aren’t delivered

Many people mistakenly fall into the trap of contacting the courier for delivery issues, when it should be the retailer. As outlined in the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the retailer has full responsibility for the condition of products until they are received by the customer. 

It is the retailer’s responsibility to chase the courier to investigate what has happened to your order, in the event of a delay. 

If it turns out the item is missing, the retailer is legally obliged to either rearrange the delivery or give you a full refund. If the retailer fails to take action, you can raise a case with the Retail Ombudsman and they’ll get in touch on your behalf. 

4.  Check your payment method 

If your item has not arrived and you used PayPal to complete the original transaction, you are protected by the Buyer’s Protection guarantee. This will reimburse you the full amount of the product, as well as any postage and packaging fees. Similarly, PayPal will also compensate you if the item does not match the seller’s description. 

If you have paid with a credit card, you could try to claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, as long as the purchased item is worth at least £100 and under £30,000. 

For debit card purchases, you can contact your bank and tell them you want to use the ‘chargeback scheme’ for non-delivered items. If the bank authorises this, they will ask the seller’s bank to reverse the payment, refunding the money back into your account. However, it’s worth mentioning that this scheme is not well known and comes with its own risks.

5.  Check your delivery instructions 

Parcels can often be delivered to an alternative place if they could not deliver to the ‘safe place’.

So, it’s best to double-check your order for any important delivery details if you have been waiting for your parcel for a long period of time. If you didn’t provide delivery instructions and it turns out the item is in fact missing, the retailer is legally bound to replace or refund your order. 

6.  Report any incidents

Report all incidents of package theft to the police. This will help them keep an eye out in your neighbourhood for package theft.

Let the retailer know that your package was stolen. 

Sometimes, a stolen package could be covered by homeowners’ or renters’ insurance. If you file a claim, you will likely have to pay a deductible that might be higher than the value of the stolen package.