Nation on alert as new Covid variant rampant threatens Christmas to be cancelled for millions.

Omicron makes it easier to order gifts online. However, the postal and delivery service risks being overwhelmed when staff are hit with self-isolation and virus.

The Post Office warned that it was expecting five million extra visits this week, making it its busiest week. 

Delayed: As Omicron forces more of us to do our gift shopping online, postal and delivery services risk being overwhelmed as the virus and self-isolation hits staffing


And last week Royal Mail warned families in 23 postal areas across the country — including Belper in Derby, Chelmsford in Essex and Shrewsbury in Shropshire — that, due to staff illness and isolation, their presents and cards might not arrive in time.

Nevertheless, the number of complaints is increasing. There were 3,173 gripes raised with consumer-rights website Resolver in the first two weeks of December — more than double received over the same time in November. There are problems with delayed, missing or damaged parcels.

The result is that some shoppers who are frustrated with the service have begun to show up at their depots and collect their goods.

Last year millions were left out because mail and packages got lost in the post. Consumer campaigners Which conducted a survey. Half of respondents had issues with Christmas online delivery, according to Which?

A recent undercover investigation discovered that staff members at Hermes’ warehouse were hurling parcels around and damaging them. One time, an undercover reporter even was encouraged to send parcels across gates to customers who weren’t home.

The Times reported that drivers were told by the authorities to pretend their courier was in an accident so they could complain about delayed deliveries.

According to Ofcom, almost two-thirds have had problems receiving their deliveries within the past three months. 

25% of all people who sent packages found it difficult or impossible to contact the parcel companies.

The regulator is attempting to hold delivery companies accountable as complaints mount. Some proposals call for customer service employees to be properly trained.

Matthew Upton is the director of policy for Citizens Advice. He believes that Ofcom should be more proactive. Ofcom must take action to punish companies that cause problems for consumers, he says.

What happens to your Christmas if it gets lost in the mail? Money Mail will guide you through the refund process if your parcel company does not deliver. . .

To find my presents, I ran into the depot.

Lyndsey Bennet was told her packages had reached her local Hermes depot but they were never sent out for delivery

Lyndsey Benjamin was informed her packages were at her Hermes depot. However, they weren’t sent to her for delivery.

Lyndsey Bennet was so fed up after waiting for her Hermes delivery to arrive she drove to the courier’s depot herself.

The mother-of-four ordered £226 of Christmas presents from JD Sports, Sports Direct and Wowcher on December 12, and paid for next-day delivery.

Lyndsey received a notification from Hermes that her packages reached the depot. But they weren’t sent for delivery.

Even after numerous phone calls, the customer service representative could not reach me.

Eventually, Lyndsey, 46, decided to visit the depot herself on Monday — which is a five-minute drive from her Dundee home. The large sign indicated that it was not a customer support centre.

Lyndsey was contacted by four men, but they couldn’t locate her parcels.

She said, “I’m furious. I think the men at this site were flogging my off.”

Yesterday, staff discovered her packages when she tried to go back yesterday.

According to a Hermes spokesperson, customers with delivery problems should contact their seller or retailer and Hermes will be contacted if necessary. 

Lyndsey has been in touch with us to apologize for any inconvenience. All of her packages have been delivered to her.

Do I have the right to claim compensation?

You can get your postage back if the package doesn’t arrive within the time promised.

The terms and conditions of the retailer or courier will determine what you are able to get.

Royal Mail’s Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1pm promises delivery by 1pm the next day and starts at £6.85, or £6.75 online, for a 100g letter.

You can request a return on postage if the delivery deadline is not met. Special Delivery compensation for delays starts at £5 if the item is more than 24 hours late and rises to £10 if it is still not delivered after seven days.

If the item arrives more than three days late, delays to second-class or first-class mail will be refunded with six packs of first-class stamps.

Parcelforce guarantees a 100% refund for items not received by express9 or express10 services. 

You will get a 50 per cent refund if your express24 parcel, which starts at £16.68, is not delivered by the close of business the next working day.

Yodel and other couriers allow their customers to take parcels out of depots. Some couriers, including Yodel, do not permit this, as does Hermes.

Covid restrictions currently mean that DPD depots cannot be opened to the public. You can however collect your parcel at one the courier’s pick-up shops, which may include local newssagents.

Fast: Royal Mail’s Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1pm promises delivery by 1pm the next day and starts at £6.85, or £6.75 online, for a 100g letter

Fast: Royal Mail’s Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1pm promises delivery by 1pm the next day and starts at £6.85, or £6.75 online, for a 100g letter

Are you eligible for a refund from the retailer

Amazon and other retailers offer guarantee delivery options. If the goods arrive late, they will be reimbursed.

Amazon claims that you’ll be reimbursed the delivery charge on a gift certificate within three to five business days after the date is missed.

The Consumer Contract Regulations provide a 14-day cooling period for online orders and phone orders. 

If the item is not delivered to you within the specified time, you may cancel the order and return it. You will be responsible for the return postage costs.

The seller must deliver the package within thirty days after you order if no date or agreement was made. You are entitled to full refund if the seller does not deliver your package within 30 days of ordering.

Home customers who receive a note stating that a delivery was not received can contact the retailer to complain, although there are no guarantees you will be compensated.

Anyone who can demonstrate that the driver failed to call the doorbell with any kind of recording (e.g., a video) has a case. Ask the retailer to immediately redeliver.

Tell the store what went wrong and how you feel it will affect you.

I dug out gift from bin 

Anna Cargan didn’t expect to spend Christmas morning looking through the recycling bin in search of a gift she had ordered.

But she was left with no choice after realising that’s where Hermes had left it — a jumper for her brother — days earlier.

Anna (34-year-old from Cumbria) runs Build A Bundle and assumed that she would receive a card in this situation.

Anna Cargan was forced to retrieve a Christmas present for her brother from her recycling bin

Anna Cargan had to find a Christmas gift for her brother in her recycle bin.

However, this didn’t happen. Anna found herself wondering where it had gone. It hadn’t even arrived for nine days.

After that, her recycling bin was full.

Anna says, ‘It is a good news I caught it prior to bin day.

Hermes spokesperson says that they don’t leave physical cards anymore to lower infection risk. It is done electronically.

They add: ‘Hermes provides its couriers with a comprehensive list of what is an acceptable safe-place location — this does not include a bin and we apologise for the inconvenience.’  

Have you seen my package?

You are not responsible if your goods get lost or stolen.

The new social-distancing rules created an issue with knock and run deliveries, where items are left at your door after being rung on the bell.

If you are not in, packages could end up being left outside your house all day — at the peril of doorstep thieves.

Contact the retailer if the goods are lost or stolen. They will resolve it according to the Consumer Rights Act. If they do not, you can request a reimbursement or replacement.

This is the same case if goods are put somewhere you did not agree to — such as a shed or with a neighbour — and are stolen.

It is up to the retailer to show that the goods have been delivered. You are not required to do the same.

If you ask the retailer to store your goods with someone nearby and then they get stolen, it is unlikely that you will be able to return any of your money.

Are gifts missing from your home?

If items sent by Royal Mail are not with you in ten working days — or five days for Special Delivery Guaranteed — after the expected date you can claim compensation for loss.

Goods sent by first and second-class post are covered up to £20 plus the cost of postage, excluding money and jewellery.

Special Delivery Guaranteed offers cover of up to £500 but you can pay for extra if sending more valuable goods.

To be eligible for consideration, claims must be filed within 80 days after delivery. The outcome will be communicated to you within 30 days.

The terms and conditions of couriers also govern what items will be covered in the event that they are lost, damaged, or late.

Hermes forbids, among others, certain items such as kitchen appliances, vinyl records, and antiques.

The Consumer Rights Act states that a retailer can be held responsible for goods damaged upon arrival. This applies unless you and your neighbor agree to a safe location or that the problem happened.

Once you have identified an issue, take pictures and email them. You must be able to prove that the retailer is responsible for any damage caused within six months from the date you received the goods. They should be covered for the return costs.

If goods arrive damaged the retailer is responsible as per the Consumer Rights Act. This is unless the problem occurred after being left in an agreed safe place or with your neighbour

The Consumer Rights Act states that a retailer can be held responsible for goods damaged upon arrival. Except if the damage occurred when goods were left unattended or shared with a neighbour, this is not an issue.

Do I have the right to parcel protection?

Major delivery companies offer an option for customers to add extra protection to protect their parcels from theft or damage. 

However, the small print can be cluttered with exclusions that could leave customers without a claim.

DPD does not offer payment for over 170 select items. This includes artwork, watches and other accessories.

And while most couriers offer free cover for low-value items, some charge £100 for more expensive deliveries. Complaints about this cover have also soared 139 per cent since 2018 — with 1,989 cases received by complaints site Resolver in 2020.

My order still hasn’t arrived

Keep calm if your gift is not received on time. Although your contract will be with the retailer for the gift, you might also contact the delivery company and see if they can resolve the issue quickly. Although it may send you back to seller, it’s worth trying.

If your parcel has been shipped, you can track it online.

Many couriers also have helplines that you can use to call them or talk online. The tracking number is required. You can contact DPD by calling 0121 275 02500, or via WhatsApp and webchat.

Parcelforce’s customer service department can be reached at 0344 800 4466. If you are able to summarise the issue in less than 220 characters, you may contact them via Twitter @parcelforce. Royal Mail claims it will deliver mail to every address it holds, 6 days per week.

There may be a limited number of offices that are unable to do so temporarily due to local issues such as Covid self-isolation or higher than usual levels of sick absence.

According to a spokesperson, “We provide targeted support for the local offices affected and apologize to all customers who may have been inconvenienced by this issue.” We are still working extremely hard by our staff.

Hermes claims it has some delays due to high volume parcels. This is being made worse by Covid staff absenteeism.

DPD states it’s on track to fulfill all orders for Christmas.

It’s too late to leave?

The Christmas season is fast approaching and shoppers want their gifts to arrive on time.

Royal Mail recommends using Royal Mail Tracked 24 today, which starts at £4.02 for a letter, or Special Delivery Guaranteed tomorrow if you are sending gifts.

Argos customers are able to place orders up to noon on Christmas Eve, for fast delivery the next day before 6pm. This service is available only on a first-come basis. Prices start at £3.95.

For Click and Collect or premium home delivery, John Lewis orders must arrive by 8pm tonight.

Marks & Spencer customers can opt for next-day delivery until tomorrow, although it has warned dates are subject to change.

All online orders include the estimated delivery date.

Amazon encourages its customers to verify the estimated delivery time on their product pages. Amazon will deliver same-day until Christmas Eve. However, this will vary depending on the product availability and whereabouts of the customer.

You can use Click and Collect to get last-minute gifts. Order in-stock items from Currys’ by December Eve to be picked up the next day.

Don’t forget to get there early as most stores close by 5pm.

For collection the following day, order online by Next before noon on December 23rd.

You can place your order by Christmas Eve at noon if you choose to use the Store Stock Checker.

Unwrapped deliveries spoil present surprise 


It can be tricky to surprise your family members with Christmas gifts.

Amazon, however, has made it more challenging by shipping the items in their own packaging.

Unwrapped parcels form part of the company’s pledge to provide ‘frustration-free packaging’ that claims is better for the environment. However, many customers are frustrated and accuse the retailer of ruining Christmas.

Amazon is sending some parcels unwrapped as part of its commitment to offer ‘frustration-free’ packaging which claims to be more eco-friendly

Amazon will send some packages unwrapped in its effort to provide a ‘frustration free’ package that is more environmentally-friendly.

Amy Tremain’s mum took to Twitter to post a photo she purchased for Cluedo. It was not an over-sized box and it didn’t even have any brown paper on the inside. Disappointed.’

Catherine White wrote, ‘It is Christmas and despite me leaving a giant note at the front door directing you to deliver it to next door, I received my package without wrapping right to my dad, to whom it was meant to be surprise. . . It was a great mistake.

George Icke (19 years old) says that he almost got caught after ordering a coffee maker for his sister. However, when he then checked the Amazon reviews, they included a warning about the see-through packaging — prompting George to cancel the order and place another, this time to be delivered to his workplace.

Amazon’s spokesperson said that they offer their customers the opportunity to hide their product for free by choosing’ship it in Amazon packaging’ during checkout.

Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging Programme aims to minimize the use of packaging materials. With manufacturers from all corners of the globe, we have helped them design and produce their products so that they can ship without additional packaging.  

This article might contain affiliate links. Clicking on these links may result in us earning a small commission. This helps to fund This Is Money and keeps it free of charge. Articles are not written to sell products. Our editorial independence is not affected by any commercial relationships.