WITH an increasing number of people shopping online, Citizens Advice has raised concerns about the problems many people face with getting it delivered to their home.
Research it has carried out has shown that over the last year more than half the people who shopped online had problems receiving parcels that they had ordered. These included items being left in an insecure location, delivery instructions ignored, the contents found to be damaged and many deliveries arriving late or not at all.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “More of us now rely on parcel delivery services as we shop online for convenience and to access the best deals. Around 94 per cent of UK adults received an online order in the last year.
“Problems with parcels can be incredibly frustrating, and can be especially disruptive for people who rely on deliveries like people with disabilities.
“The scale of these problems does not just come down to bad practice – it indicates a wider problem with the parcel market as a whole. Right now parcel companies don’t always act in the best interest of consumers. That’s why we’re asking the Competition and Markets Authority to review this to make sure it works for people using it.”
Citizens Advice estimates that consumers in the UK have lost at least £85million because of parcel problems in the last year. It found that it takes on average two hours to fix a parcel problem and over half of people who tried to do so end up facing further issues, such as struggling to find contact information or having to chase up their complaint many times.
This month usually sees a surge in the number of people seeking help from Citizens Advice with debt problems and the last day of January is often its busiest day of the year. It provides advice on a wide variety of debt concerns, such as rent and council tax arrears, credit card debt and unsecured loans, and with many still facing bills from Christmas these problems are normally greatest at this time of the year.
Rovarn Wickremasinghe, chief officer of Bridport and District Citizens Advice, said: “We are keen to encourage people not to let debt problems become a crisis as they are much easier to sort out if advice is sought early.
“We can help people manage their debt and are often able to negotiate with creditors in order to put a repayment plan in place. We can also assist them with cutting costs and budgeting better in order to improve their financial security.
“It is important to prioritise debts. There can be serious consequences if people fall behind with their rent, mortgage, energy costs and council tax and these bills should always be paid first.”
The help offered by Citizens Advice is always free, confidential and impartial and no appointment is required. Two sessions are held each week in Lyme Regis. These take place on Mondays between 10am and 12noon at the medical centre in Uplyme Road (DT7 3LS) and on Wednesdays from 10am to 3pm at the St Michael’s Business Centre (DT7 3DB).
Anyone who is seeking help from Citizens Advice can also visit its offices in South Street, Bridport, DT6 3NY every weekday between 10am and 3pm. Alternatively they can contact Citizens Advice by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 03444-111-444, which gets them through to the Dorset AdviceLine.
People having problems with Universal Credit can contact Citizens Advice on a national freephone number which is 0800-144-8444 and the webchat support service is available through its website.