What next if a company won’t deliver and won’t cancel?

What happens when a company refuses to deliver an item and refuses to cancel the order? Two readers this week have found themselves in this Catch 22 situation when unspecified health and safety issues left them empty-handed and out of pocket.

ST from Ashford, Kent writes:

We are a charity based in a Children’s Centre. We recently ordered a commercial dishwasher and freezer from Peachman.co.uk.

It was delivered with no problems but when the freezer arrived we were told it could only be delivered to the doorstep. There are no steps that would make it difficult to bring the goods into our community café. I had to refuse delivery as we couldn’t leave it outside in the rain and I had no one that could help me bring it in.

I told Peachman I would have to cancel the order if this was the policy. It said it was up to individual couriers where they left the goods and that there would be a surcharge of £54 for refusing the delivery.

If we cancelled we would be charged £230 for non-delivery and restocking.

Meanwhile, TK of Newtown, Wiltshire is unable to take receipt of a bike saddle he ordered online:

MyHermes is refusing to deliver, stating the road I live on is too rural for the driver to get to. I live in a hamlet with Tarmac roads but the entrance to my place is up a stone track. Royal Mail vans come daily, as does my weekly shopping delivery. It really is a normal village in southern England.

They won’t refund me as the parcel isn’t lost. Yet they won’t deliver it, either, confessing it is just sitting on a delivery warehouse shelf.

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They are involving me in what is essentially a dispute between them and their local driver.

I have tried asking them to simply get out of the van – it’s about a 50 metre walk to my door – but two phone calls and two written complaints later and I’ve had no reply.

Peachman agreed to refund the cost of ST’s freezer and the non-delivery charge after the Observer intervened.

It seems that when you pay for delivery you take pot luck as to whether you get an obliging contractor who will heave the item into its premises or dump it on the pavement. “In our terms and conditions we do make it clear we can only guarantee delivery to the kerbside,” it says. “Occasionally, some goods are carried inside, but at the discretion of the manufacturer’s outside courier company.

“We appreciate this has caused some confusion and, as a goodwill gesture, will cancel the order and repay the additional charge.”

MyHermes has since summoned the courage to deliver the saddle – two weeks late. “We have a number of robust processes to deal with concerns about the accessibility of a property. However, in this case, we can see that they were not followed and have launched a full investigation,” it says. “We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

If you need help email Anna Tims at your.problems@observer.co.uk or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions

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