Failed or late international delivery from the EU? What to do.

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What happens if you buy something with worldwide shipping, to outside of the EU, and your shopping package which you have bought from an online shop within the European Union (EU) fails to show up, as promised, on your doorstep over on the other side of the world? Here is our guide and advice of what to do in the event that your international shopping from Europe fails to show up. EU failed or late international delivery, your rights and what to do. 

This advice and tips applies to people who have bought their shopping online from a shop or website that is within the EU and the item was delivered late, damaged or was not delivered. There are 28 countries in the EU including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Normally when you buy something over the internet, as a consumer, you are protected by the consumer protection laws of the country where the shop that you bought from is based. So if you are in Australia and you buy some clothes from the UK, you will be covered by UK legislation. If you are in Dubai and shop from an Italian website, you will be covered by Italian consumer law. All of these countries, being in the EU have laws that are harmonised by EU directives on Consumer Rights. The current rights came in to force on 13 June 2014.


Failed International Delivery Dispute Steps, summary:

1. Wait until the delivery date has passed
2. Contact the delivery company
3. Politely inform the seller’s customer services.
Use one of our letter templates (coming soon) 
4. Rearrange delivery dates if possible
5. Cancel & ask for refund if necessary
6. Ask for discount or gift voucher compensation if all else fails
7. Use a dispute resolution service as a last resort

1. My item has not arrived, what are my rights?

The first thing to realise is that when you purchased your shopping you created an unwritten contract with the seller. Within EU law all items should be delivered within 30 days unless a specific delivery time is stated. Most international deliveries can be shipped to most countries in the world within this time frame, but it is important to know before you buy what the delivery time should be. It is also part of EU consumer law that websites make clear their delivery times and prices before you pay, so you should be able to find this out in advance. Make sure you read and understand the shop’s international delivery policy before you shop.

The contract you have made when shopping is with the retailer or shop and not the courier or delivery company, it is the retailer that you will seek compensation or redress from if there is a problem.

2. Contact the courier or delivery company first.

If your item has not been delivered within the time frame that the shop stated on their website or on their communication with you, then the first thing you should do is contact the delivery company to ask where your package is. It might simply be delayed and by chasing them up you can arrange a suitable delivery or re-delivery slot. You might have a tracking number and order number so be sure to give them to the delivery company so they can check it out for you.

Find the delivery company’s website and look for their customer service section. Send them a polite support query or email if necessary.

3. My shopping has still not arrived.

The delivery time frame has passed, you have spoken to the delivery company and your parcel has still not arrived. EU law gives you 14 days in which you can change your mind and cancel your order. If you are within that time frame, which might be tight for international shoppers, then you can exercise your right to cancel and get a full refund. Contact the seller with your order number and tell them you wish to cancel your order.

If your shopping did not arrive with 30 days, or within the delivery time frame that they stated when you bought the items, then you can still cancel and expect a full refund. Contact should be made with the seller to establish with them that the items were not delivered.

Remember, though, that with international delivery there are plenty of reasons why your package might legitimately be delayed. It may be held up by customs whilst the documentation is checked and it is cleared.

4. My item has arrived but it is damaged.

If your item was delivered damaged, you will need to contact the seller immediately and tell them about the situation. Take some pictures of the damaged parcel or items and send them along with your order number and delivery tracking number, send it to their customer services department either through the shop’s website or via email. If the item you bought does not meet the description of the item you purchased you should be able to claim a full refund.

5. The delivery company missed the delivery slot and want to re-deliver.

If the delivery company tried to deliver the items and were not able to, they should have left a note with details of how to contact them for another shot at delivery. Make sure you call them up and do so. If you don’t the delivery company probably won’t try to re-deliver, unless they have specifically said that they would, and if you don’t pick the item up they could, after a time period, destroy it or return it.

It might be that you had to take a day off work to wait at home for your item to be delivered, and it wasn’t, so now you have to take another day off for re-delivery. What can you do, can you claim compensation? This appears to be a grey area for international deliveries.

You should try and arrange delivery at a time that suits you, in the evening for instance, but if this is not possible and there is no way around the fact that you will be out of pocket having to wait for a re-delivery the, we believe, that you may be able to ask for compensation for your ‘consequential loss’. 

It seems unlikely that for an international purchase you will be able to claim anything but, if you have tried to be reasonable and your goods cannot be delivered without leaving you out of pocket then telling the shop that you will chase them for some compensation might give them the kick that they need to arrange a successful delivery of your purchase to you. They might even send you a gift voucher or store credit.

If you have spent money on phone calls, letters and incurred other costs in trying to resolve a delivery dispute you might also be able to claim for those too.

Our advice is to first follow the shop’s late delivery procedure and see if you can ask them for some compensation before threatening them with legal action, as this will be difficult to do from abroad.

6. I still cannot resolve my dispute with the shop.

If you cannot solve your dispute after contacting the seller, there may be ways in which you can use a third party consumer resolution service. 

  • Get in touch with your local or national consumer protection agency.
  • Use a disputes resolution service.
  • Use social media to highlight the problem. Many shops use Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms as customer service channels and by making your issue public in this way it may help to speed up a satisfactory resolution.
  • Contact your credit card provider or payment company. Some countries allow purchases by credit cards to be protected, Paypal offer some consumer protection on purchases made through them.

7. My delivery is from a package forwarder, who should I contact?

In this case you should contact the package forwarder for the delivery between them and you, but if the delivery from the retailer to the package forwarder has gone awry you will need to speak with the retailer.

8. What should I write in my communication with the retailer?

We are creating some email and letter templates which you can download, fill in with your details, and send on to the customer services of the retailer telling them of the failed delivery.

Letter/email templates to customer services

Further Reading

Here are some quick links to some popular retailer delivery policies.

Amazon Global delivery Policy

eBay Global Shipping Policy

 Experienced a failed international delivery? Why not leave your story in the comments below or leave a review of the shop you bought from?






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