Problems and solutions for online delivery woes

Parcel problems

You have made an online purchase or have sent something to another person and the package does not arrive, or it arrives in poor condition, it is left with a neighbour, or it is lost along the way. Does it sound familiar to you? Problems with courier companies, especially around retail boost periods like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, are all too common, and it is very useful to know how to act. The OCU consumer’s association have prepared a useful guide to explain your rights.

Delivery problems: what to do, how to complain

Online shopping is here to stay, we increasingly use the Internet for our purchases. Everyday thousands of transactions are made and thousands of packages are delivered. Most times everything goes as planned, there are not too many problems… but the truth is that they do occur: some of those packages arrive in poor condition, they do not contain what was ordered, they are missing something, they are left with a person that it was not the recipient or they do not arrive directly.

What can be done in these cases? Well, it depends on whether you are the recipient of the package or the sender, and also on what the problem was.

If the package was addressed to you

The procedure for claiming is more or less the same in all cases, but depending on what the problem was, there may be some measure that is appropriate to take:

If the package arrives broken or incomplete. To prevent the company from claiming that it was delivered to you in perfect condition, if when they give it to you it seems that it is dented, that it has been opened, that something is missing… record it on the delivery note and take some photos.

If the package does not contain what you ordered. If you receive a product that does not contain what you had purchased, promptly inform the seller and photograph the contents to keep as evidence. If it is an error, the normal thing is that they will let you make a free return and send you the correct product or refund your money.

If they left the package with a neighbour. The custom of leaving packages with neighbours if you are not at home is quite common but it is not legal for them to do so without notifying you and obtaining your consent. If it happens to you, you can complain to the seller and the transport company, but by contacting their data protection officer. You can also report the seller and the carrier to the Spanish Data Protection Agency. And if the action has caused any harm or harm that is relevant, claim compensation in court.

If instead of receiving the package you expected you receive a notification from customs.  What happens is that you have made a purchase outside the European common market and when entering Spanish soil, unless it is in the Canary Islands, Ceuta or Melilla, you must pay IVA (which was not charged at origin), plus tariffs (if the value exceeds 150 euro), plus the commissions for settling the tax and carrying out customs procedures (charged by transport agencies). Being charged all these expenses is legal, but you should know that if the package arrives broken, damaged, incomplete… claiming from a non-EU business is always more complicated.

Now that these particularities are known, we go with the claim process when you have problems as the recipient of a package.

  1. Go to the seller to try an amicable solution

The seller is responsible for ensuring that the product arrives and does so in good condition. Identifying it is easy if you have purchased in an online store. If you have bought on a marketplace, sometimes it is not very clear whether the seller is the platform or a third party that is hosted on it, although in theory they should already be making it very clear thanks to the new laws on digital services and digital markets.

The first attempt can be done in a friendly tone, calling the contact phone number or writing an email to customer service. But if they don’t fix the problem, you’ll have to move on.

  1. If they ignore you, complain in writing and add evidence

In everything that has to do with online purchases and parcel services, it is very important to keep evidence. We are talking about the receipt of the purchase, the emails exchanged with the company, photos of the package and its contents (if it does not contain what you ordered or is in poor condition), photos of the delivery note in which it is advisable to note any disagreement if the problem It has already been detected at the time of delivery…

You can also complain to the seller through the OCU Claim platform and your claim will arrive with the OCU seal.

  1. If the seller does not give in, look for an extrajudicial solution

If you are an OCU member, use the Legal Advisory services to initiate an intermediation on your behalf.

Another option is to request arbitration at the Consumer Arbitration Board in your locality, as a free and fairly agile procedure. But businesses can refuse to submit to arbitration unless they adhere to the system, which is not usually the norm.

  1. Consider claiming through judicial means

If mediation is not successful and the seller refuses to submit to arbitration, you can go to trial, as long as you have evidence in favour of your version. Remember that for claims of up to 2,000 euro you do not need a lawyer or solicitor, so it will hardly cost anything.

If you are the one who sent the package

In case you have sent a package that left your hands in good condition, various problems may also arise:

That the package arrives damaged. As a rule, they will give you almost nothing, in 2023 only 6.60 euro per kilo shipped will be compensated, unless the company voluntarily improves the compensation. Therefore, if you send valuable items, it is better to make an express declaration of the value and insure it.

That the package is lost or stolen and never arrives. Before contracting a shipment, the ideal is to examine the amounts covered by the company if the package is lost and, if they are not enough, make a declaration of value and insure the shipment: it means paying more, but if problems arise you will recover at least the monetary value of the content.

What is the way to complain in case of problems if you are the one who sent a package?

  1. Complaint to the company’s customer service

You will have to complain to the courier company you used, making as always a friendly first attempt, followed by a formal complaint if they have not given you a satisfactory solution within a short period of time. Submit your claim in writing and wait for the response, which should arrive within a maximum of one month.

  1. If the answer is not favourable, look for other ways

Raise your complaint through the OCU Claim platform

If you are an OCU member, request an intermediation from the OCU Legal Department.

Another option is to go to arbitration, but to transportation arbitration. The Transportation Arbitration Board of your community is the competent one in these cases. Its procedures are free and agile and its resolution is binding. Companies cannot refuse arbitration when the amount in dispute is, at most, 15,000 euro (as long as this option has not been excluded before contracting the shipment, as GLS does, for example).

  1. If nothing works, consider going to court.

It is a simple option with a very low cost if the claim is less than 2,000 euro, since there is no need for a lawyer or attorney.


Ten precautions to avoid problems

In any case, prevention is better than cure. Take note of these 10 tips:

Give preference in your purchases to reliable stores.

Preferably opt for shops in the European Union. You will be protected by community law and will have an easier time complaining if there are problems.

If you buy outside the European Union, remembering that this now includes the UK, give preference to stores where the price of the product includes VAT, to facilitate customs procedures.

Be very careful if you receive an SMS announcing the arrival of a package or the need to pay customs fees.  There are many cases of fraud and theft of personal data in this way. Call the company but not through the phone number or link they give you.

Be very attentive when the package arrives, to point out any irregularities on the delivery note itself: if the box has dents, if its shape or weight makes it clear that the product has been mistaken…

If there is a problem, act immediately. The sooner you notify the seller, the courier company or both, if applicable, the better.

If a package you expected or sent does not arrive, arrives empty, or is missing part of its contents, file a report with the police and add it to your evidence.

If the seller is an individual, unless you have agreed otherwise, it is them who you should ask to account if problems arise, so that they can investigate what has happened with the company from which they contracted the shipment.

If you buy on a second-hand platform like Wallapop, make your communications and payments without leaving the tools available on the platform.  And if you are a victim of fraud, contact them immediately not to release the payment and file a police report. We have detected an increase in fraudulent sellers who send empty packages or with a different product or lower value than advertised.

In communities where there is a concierge who is in charge of receiving packages, it is good that the neighbours regulate their functions and responsibilities, and that they be instructed to keep a record and to record possible anomalies on the delivery receipts, such as broken, open boxes, etc.