Black Friday parcels: should your neighbour sign for them, and what are your rights?

With all the Black Friday parcels about to hit delivery vans countrywide, it makes sense to know your rights when it comes to deliveries

Black Friday parcels
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Thousands upon thousands of Black Friday parcels are about to be delivered to people's homes during the late-November shopping bonanza – almost £1.5 billion worth of them, to be more precise. 

And, inevitably, many of us won't be able to be in to sign for them, so it'll be down to delivery drivers and neighbours to figure out how to best get them to you safely. Most people are helpful neighbours who will take in your parcel for you, but every once in a while things don't go according to plan. 

Here are the most common parcel (mis)delivery case scenarios* and what to do about them. 

1. My neighbour signed for goods that turned out to be faulty

There's nothing wrong with a neighbour signing for your goods – their doing so doesn't invalidate your consumer rights. So, if the contents of the package turn out to be damaged or otherwise faulty, you should have the same right of return as if you'd signed for them. 

The exception to this rule is when the delivery company's small print states that the signature confirms that 'goods are neither faulty nor damaged' – but this is relatively rare. If you are ordering something fragile, it's worth checking where the responsibility lies during delivery first. 

2. The delivery company say they delivered to a neighbour, but the neighbour doesn't have the parcel

This is a common enough problem, especially during peak delivery season. Not to worry, though, and no need to argue with neighbours (who, in most cases, are blameless) because, unless you specifically instructed the delivery company to leave your parcel with a nominated neighbour, their decision to leave a parcel with someone else without your instruction automatically becomes the responsibility of the seller. 

So, if you've checked with your neighbours, and the parcel is nowhere to be found, contact the seller for a replacement or refund. 

3. The delivery driver left the parcel outside my property – now it's gone

Again, unless explicitly instructed by you to leave your parcel in the front porch, drivers shouldn't do this. In this case, the retailer will again have to take responsibility – unless they have a policy where all parcels are left outside if no one's in. Always make sure you read the 'delivery' section on the website you're ordering from. 

4. The delivery company delivered my parcel to an access point, but it's not there

To counteract some of the pitfalls of home delivery when people aren't in, some companies now divert parcels to collection points (typically corner shops or petrol stations). This can be very convenient, but what if you arrive with your delivery card, and your parcel isn't there? 

Don't panic – the most likely case scenario here is that the delivery driver mistakenly took your parcel back to the warehouse. The best thing to do is to contact your retailer who will investigate with the delivery company. They'll usually do this for about a week, and if the parcel still hasn't turned up, they'll issue you a refund.

5. Should I sign for a neighbour's parcel?

Generally speaking, yes, especially if they usually sign for yours. However, if the box looks damaged, you could save your neighbour hassle by taking a photo of the parcel and refusing delivery. 

*Tips developed with the help of Admiral Home Insurance