UNDER lockdown, parcel deliveries have become a lifeline, especially for disabled people or those shielding.
Citizens Advice has found that approximately 7 million disabled people had a problem with their parcel deliveries in a single week. This number jumps to just over 9 million people when looking at those in the shielded group, which also includes those who are elderly, pregnant or have a long-term illness.
These problems include parcels left in inaccessible places, delivery drivers not leaving enough time for people to answer the door, and goods not being delivered on time or at all.
Over the past few months, UK consumers have become increasingly dependent on online shopping and spending has increased exponentially, with an average of £2.5billion spent a week online in June, compared to £1.5billion in February (a 62 per cent increase).
Despite this increasing reliance, Citizens Advice has seen a 119 per cent increase in people seeking help on parcel issues on its website since lockdown began in March.
Charlotte, a quadruple amputee who uses delivery services frequently, explains how more still needs to be done: “I find it difficult to get to the shops so I’m reliant on home deliveries. I need more time to get to, and open, the door when I get a parcel delivered.
“I have a sign in my front door asking for deliveries and post to be taken to the side entrance as it’s more accessible. But nine times out of ten my sign is ignored and my parcels are left in places I cannot access.”
Last year, Citizens Advice called on delivery companies to improve parcel deliveries for disabled people. But with many disabled people belonging to the shielded group or relying even more on parcel deliveries due to COVID-19, ensuring that everyone has equal access to delivery services has become more important than ever.
Five UK parcel companies committed to finding a way to do this, including DHL Parcel, Hermes, DPD, Menzies, and Parcelly. They agreed to find a way to:
- Allow disabled people to specify their explicit accessibility needs and pass these onto the driver making the delivery. This could include allowing more time for drivers when delivering and leaving parcels in accessible locations that are easy to reach.
- Publish detailed accessibility information online so disabled people can choose where they can pick up and drop off parcels. Many delivery companies, including some major players, have yet to sign the pledge meaning millions of deliveries remain inaccessible or don’t meet the needs of disabled consumers.
Citizens Advice is urging all companies to commit fully to its pledge to make sure they’re giving all consumers equal access to this essential service.
Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “It’s hard to imagine how many of us would get through lockdown without getting parcels delivered.
“They’ve allowed us to retain a sense of normality and helped businesses to stay afloat. But for many disabled consumers or for those previously shielding, parcel delivery has become a lifeline for accessing essential items.
“We’d like to see all parcel companies sign our pledge so they can deliver for everyone, regardless of their accessibility needs.”
Contact Citizens Advice if you need help with delivery problems. Phone us on 01308 456594 or call Dorset AdviceLine on 0344 111 444 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will call you back.
We are also offering a limited drop-in service Monday to Friday following government social-distancing guidelines from 10am at 45 South Street, Bridport, DT6 3NY.