It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The song says so, after all. The streets are twinkling with lights, the stores are filled with festive music and the Christmas markets are filled with merry shoppers and the distinctive smell of mulled wine. But, unfortunately, Christmas isn’t always fun and games. In fact, it can be a very stressful time for some people, especially for those who have ordered goods or need to send goods.
It’s no secret that parcel delivery and mail services can face delays during the holidays, but for those of you who are still wondering whether or not your parcel will be delivered before Christmas, we’ve pulled together some of the most frequently asked questions and done our best to answer them for you!
Why Are There Delays At Christmas?
There’s nothing worse than expecting your usual service, only to be told that it’s not possible. You could’ve paid for standard delivery of 3-5 working days, and 7 working days later your parcel still hasn’t arrived at its destination, or even next day delivery that hasn’t even dispatched two days later. While there are some more extreme examples, delays during the holiday period are something that companies are doing their best to avoid, but aren’t always successful at. But why is this the case?
Simply put, it comes down to demand. Couriers and mail services are busy all year round, but when it comes to Christmas and the surrounding weeks, this level of busy skyrockets. The Royal Mail alone can see millions of extra cards, letters and parcels being sent and despite hiring 19,000 extra staff and opening additional sort centres, even the later opening hours aren’t always enough – and that’s the Royal Mail! Smaller companies and couriers can struggle just as much, but often find themselves failing to keep a footing and from there, all it takes is one slip up to lose momentum for the entire season.
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday being as big as it is in America, and becoming more and more popular in the UK, the struggles can start from as early as November for some companies. For those that get caught up in Black Friday deliveries, it can take weeks to get back on their feet – precious weeks that are needed for Christmas deliveries! In the UK alone, over 17m parcels are expected to miss Christmas delivery times, amounting to around £695million. Couriers and retailers do their best, but unfortunately it isn’t always enough.
What Do I Need To Know Before Sending A Parcel During The Christmas Period?
Like any time of the year, as a consumer you have rights when it comes to your delivery service, but not everyone is aware of just what they are. Whether you decide to exercise these rights is entirely up to you during the holiday period in particular, but for the sake of knowing what you can and can’t hope to be able to claim or complain for, here are a few basic rights you are entitled to:
First of all, it’s important to see if the courier can tell you where your parcel is. Whether you’ve sent a parcel or have ordered from a retailer, it is probably a courier who will be delivering your parcel and they may be the best port of call for locating a late or missing parcel. If the parcel is late, however, you could be entitled to some kind of compensation or refund. Make sure you check with the terms and conditions, however, as some companies will give a ‘buffer’ period – usually of 30 days – especially if you’re ordering or sending from abroad!
If you’ve ordered from a retailer, it’s important to remember that it’s the retailer that is held responsible for a late or lost delivery, not the courier. The contract is with them, so damaged, lost or late items can be complained about directly to them. If you’re going through a courier to deliver a parcel, you’ll complain directly to them. Make sure you know who the contract is with, and what the contract states to be safe!
It can be difficult to claim any kind of refund or compensation, however, unless a company has specified a delivery date. If you’ve paid for next day delivery, or they’ve given you a guaranteed delivery date and it wasn’t delivered on time, then it’s likely that your claim will be successful, but delivery times of “5-7 business days” for example, are harder to claim for. As long as delivery is within a ‘reasonable time’ (which is around 30 days) claims can be difficult.
How Do I Make Sure That My Parcel Arrives Before Christmas?
If you want to be sure that your delivery arrives in time for Christmas, the best thing you can do is make sure that you post in good time for the last delivery dates! These will differ from company to company, especially as far as retailers are concerned, but there are a few general dates that can help you!
For example, the Post Office has an extensive suggested list of last posting dates for UK and International delivery. In the UK, for example, they suggest Friday 22nd December for Special Delivery Guaranteed Saturday Delivery, Thursday 21st December for Special Delivery Guaranteed and 1st Class and 1st Class Signed for, and Wednesday 20th December for 2nd Class and 2nd Class signed for. These are only suggested, however, and given the potential delays it’s wise to get your mail posted in plenty of time! You can see the full list of UK delivery dates and International delivery dates on their website here.
As desperate as you can be to send a parcel in good time without having to pay a fortune for the privilege, we do suggest only using reputable companies, and try and pick one that offers a tracking service if you can. They can cost a little extra, but for the peace of mind that your parcel will turn up in good time for Christmas can be well worth an extra few pounds. Giving yourself and the couriers plenty of time to get their job done is vital for ensuring early delivery, but if you do find yourself doing any last minute shopping or sending, make sure you keep an eye on suggested last posting dates, and check for regular updates from each company!
Christmas doesn’t have to be as stressful as it can seem. If you’re looking to send a parcel this Christmas, take a look at our comparison tool online now, or contact us for more information about last posting dates, and guaranteed delivery services!