More than half of us have had problems with something we bought online last year - and the number of issues we face is rising. It doesn't matter whether we opt for delivery or click and collect, online stores seem incapable of providing a reliable service. So what can you do?
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The JDA/Centiro Customer Pulse report found that 56% of us had trouble with an online order - up from 53% last year and 47% a year earlier. The biggest issue was late delivery - which 47% of people faced. This was followed by missing a delivery despite waiting in at home (experienced by 37% of people), having orders that never arrived (25%) and receiving damaged items (24%).
You might have thought that choosing click and collect would remove delivery issues from the equation - but apparently not. Some 43% of people faced an issue with a click and collect order. These included long waiting times because lack of staff (26%), and staff not being able to find the things they had ordered (18%).
When we finally receive an item - often this is only half the battle. Buying online radically increases the chances of us being unhappy with what we receive too. Some 38% of people said they've had an item that wasn't quite what they were expecting, while 32% said the item was faulty, and 17% were so unsure about issues like size and colour that they ordered several items knowing that they'd have to return most of them.
What can you do?
Most of us vote with our feet when we've been let down, and if we've faced a problem in the past, 78% of us switched to a different retailer the next time we went online shopping.
However, the Consumer Rights Act of 2015 gives us a chance to demand better service too. Generally speaking, the retailer has 30 days to deliver an item, unless a longer period has been agreed. If you had agreed a date before this, and it arrives late, they have broken your contract, so you have the right to cancel the purchase and get a full refund.
If you opted for standard delivery, then technically your contract is with the retailer, so it's their responsibility to ensure delivery. However, it might be worth chasing up the delivery firm first. They may have a customer service number or a tracking service, so you can see how far your parcel has got.
Only when you draw a blank with the delivery firm is it worth going back to the retailer, and getting them to deal with the issue. They should also be your first port of call if the item doesn't show up at all, and you can demand a refund.