Have you ever ordered something online and had issues with delivery? Perhaps the item is nowhere to be seen or you’re worried about theft. Not sure who to contact or who is responsible? Here’s what the law says in BC.
Who is responsible when you don’t get your package?
It can get a bit complicated, but the bottom line is this: regardless of the outcome of your package, the business must always be able to prove that they delivered the item properly. The law in BC sets out how this is supposed to be done.
What kind of things prove the delivery took place properly?
- The business should have provided you with a reasonable notice of delivery so you have an opportunity to receive the package – this could be a shipping notification and estimated delivery time.
- It’s up to the business to decide how they demonstrate that the item was actually delivered to the correct location
My order is not here and the business says it’s been delivered – now what?
- If the business can prove that they did everything they were supposed to and you’re concerned about theft, you can report the issue to your local police.
- If the business cannot prove they delivered the goods to your home in the ways outlined above and you still don’t have your package, you can follow the steps below to cancel your order and receive a refund.
Online orders in BC
When you buy something online, you are usually entering into something called a distance sales contract. This “contract” may look like an order confirmation or digital receipt. In BC, with these transactions you are within your rights to cancel your order and request a refund if:
- The business does not give you a copy of the contract within 15 days, you have up to 30 days from date of purchase to cancel the contract
- The goods are not delivered to you within 30 days of the delivery date noted in the contract
- OR if you weren’t given a delivery date in your contract and the order doesn’t arrive within 30 days of the purchase
How to cancel your order and request a refund
If the business cannot prove that the order was delivered, then you can “cancel” the contract for one of the two reasons above. Follow these steps to cancel your order and request a refund:
- To officially cancel the contract and request a refund from the supplier, you can use one of the official cancellation forms available on our website. Once you have filled out the right form, you can send it to the business (by mail, email, or fax). The seller has 15 days to refund you the total amount.
- If the business does not give you your refund, the recourse is now through your credit card provider. You can request that the charges on the card are reversed or cancelled – we also have a form available to help you through that process.
- If you are also denied by your credit card provider, we want to know about it. Both the credit card provider and the business would be in breach of the laws we oversee. We would encourage you to submit a complaint to us so we can review it.
Questions? Feel free to ask us your questions in the comment section below or explore some of the other blog posts about online orders.
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About Consumer Protection BC
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.
31 thoughts on “Online orders: who is responsible when you don’t get your package?”
We are currently waiting for an order which I placed in late October on line thinking I was dealing with an American company and the product was made in the USA. I paid by credit card and was astonished to see the order was being shipped from China. I paid extra for tracking service and in early December was notified it had arrived in Mississauga Ontario. It was transferred to Canada Post and I received notice it was in transit an would arrive December 16th. Since then it hasn’t moved from the “in transit” stage and I have been unable to get any more information?
Hi Harold, thank you for contacting us. Canada Post has been experiencing an exceptionally high volume of mail and parcels this year. Having said that, you may want to follow up with them. Here’s a link to their website (https://www.canadapost.ca/web/en/pages/support/default.page), take a look at the “Tracking Status” section and see if you have some options such as contacting them over the phone. I hope you will be able to get your package soon!
I deal a lot with shipping from China as my business is shipping from there. From what I’m reading from your post is your package is with Canada Post. It’s most likely in cbsa clearing stage. The china shipping doesn’t always update on time that’s why it seems stuck in transit. Best to check on CP tracker for updates.
Perfect timing for this info as I have been having a problem with a order I made on the 26th of Nov..the company said it was shipped Dec 3rd and the shipping company states they only received electronic documentation, but never received the package. So because of this article I know what steps I can take…Thankyou
You are very welcome, Lynda! Best of luck to you in receiving your package.
What do you do when Post Office gives you wrong key for box . When you get right key to get your parcel and its not there. Post Office says it was delivered and not thier fault. It was delivered.
Hi Lynn, we do not regulate Canada Post so we are not familiar with how they deal with these kinds of issues. Have you obtained a service ticket to start a claim process with them? Depending on how it was mailed (tracked, with or without insurance) they may be able to help you further. Here is a link to their website related to your situation. I hope you will be able to get your package soon!
Thanks! This is useful information as I order lots of goods online!
Hi Nigel, we’re glad to hear that the information is helpful! Thank you for your feedback.
I ordered from a company in China. I tracked it to my community mailbox. No key was left in my mailbox to retrieve my parcel. Canada Post takes no responsibility.
Hi Barb, thank you for reaching out to us. Are you still having trouble accessing your mailbox because you do not have the key? If that is the case, Canada Post would be the only organization that can help you. If the package was lost, you could try cancelling the “contract” with the company by following the steps outlined in this post. Please let me know if you have any questions about this process.
We ordered an item from a company online that didn’t offer in-store pick-up for the item. We were given tracking information so listened attentively for the delivery since the item was relatively expensive. We were home at the time of delivery, received no knock and the package was left on our doorstep (we have double doors and leave the first unlocked for packages to be slipped inside but the postal worker said it was too stiff to open). Within half an hour of when it was said to be delivered we randomly checked and there was no parcel.
After contacting Canada Post, they did an investigation and determined that GPS put the package at our house at delivery, so must have been stolen. We contacted the company we ordered from at this point and they said they’d conduct an investigation and get back to us within 10 business days. It’s now been double that amount of time. I’ve contacted the company twice now and they say the investigation is still ongoing. Do we have any recourse whatsoever? The package was expedited I believe, so should have had insurance on it?
Hi Jenn, at this point, the package was delivered to your house (sounds like GPS proves it) so you may want to contact your local police to report theft. Canada Post offers different kinds of insurance but often it’s an additional feature so please check your receipt/shipping notification to see if you paid for insurance. You can also ask Canada Post I believe. Contacting the credit card company to ask for a charge-back is another option but I am not sure if that would result in a refund. Nonetheless, I hope you will be able to resolve this issue quickly.
I think we all order online during tumultuous times. I have everything sent to a post office outlet in a drug store. I then go pick it up. Simple solution for me as local post boxes have been tampered with.
Cheers to all of you – your responses to all mail are much needed. Pat Savage
Thank you for sharing this, Pat! I personally use Canada Post’s Flex Delivery as well, so much safer and no need to worry about the package getting lost.
What if the problem lies with the courier company? In my instance, UPS is trying to charge me brokerage fees totalling almost 50% of the cost of the item I ordered online from the US. I discovered that I didn’t have to pay UPS’s horrendous brokerage fees if I simply self-cleared the package myself with CBSA and that UPS was lawfully required to provide me the necessary paperwork to do this. I have sent 3 requests to UPS for the paperwork now in just over a week and they are not responding to my requests. UPS has simply replied that someone will get back to me, but never does. Please help!
Hi Alan, thank you for leaving us a comment here. Unfortunately, our organization does not oversee courier companies so we are not able to provide any advice on this. Sounds like you have tried to contact UPS numerous times but since there are no regulatory organizations, you may need to keep trying with them. Hope you will be able to resolve the issue directly with them.
Thanks for answering questions.
I had some rare books ordered from eBay USA. It showed delivered with a signature.. that is not ours. The shipping company Intelcom, seems to have no interest in attempting to collect back the package from who they have it to.
eBay wants to just refund me and move on. But these books are impossible to find again in the same set. I just want my items – not the money back.
Is there no requirement for the shipper to make every effort to collect back the items? The people who received did so and are opening my mail illegally, is there no action against them? The shipping company/driver must know where they took it. Would the police require the shipper to provide them that location and go collect it?
Really, how is there any incentive for shipping companies and drivers to actually make proper deliveries when there’s no accountability, and everyone else pays for their mistakes :(.
Hi Julie, thank you for contacting Consumer Protection BC. If you think the package got delivered to the wrong address or got stolen from your front door, you can report the theft to the police. But I’m not sure if the police will be able to help you locate the package. You may want to go back to the shipping company to find out where it got delivered (your house vs someone else’s place). I hope you can find the books soon!
Hi, I’m based in the U.K. and ordered an item on eBay from a company based in B.C.
I looks likely that the item is lost in transit , am I covered under B.C. distance selling regulations ? I paid by bank transfer and the company in question has indicated they will not refund ? Thanks Andy
Hi Andy, thank you for getting in contact with us. You can certainly take a look at the distance sales contract laws in BC as your seller is located in BC. Were you notified of the estimated delivery date when you purchased your item? Did you receive a receipt by email? Your right to get a refund would depend on these factors so please read through the blog post above. Links to our cancellation forms are in the post as well. I hope you will be able to receive a refund quickly!
What are the protection laws for businesses that enter into a shipping contract?
Small retailers, especially home based businesses selling on sites like Etsy, don’t have the money to pay for a shipping company’s mistake.
Surely, we’re consumers too in these situations.
I understand you don’t regulate Canada Post, but if we ship via courier what laws protect us from not receiving the service we’ve paid for?
Hi Rachel, thank you for reaching out to us. Unfortunately, the consumer protection laws in BC do not extend to businesses so we are not able to offer any support. Solving the issues directly with the company (especially with a private courier company) would be one option, otherwise, you may have to take the dispute to court. With Canada Post, they have their own Ombudsman so you can contact them. Here’s their website. This is perhaps not what you wanted to hear but I hope you will be able to resolve your issue.
how do I submit claim online? is there a link I can use?
Having issue with UPS store not providing me my package
Hi G, it is the business that this process helps you with, not the courier. If the business did everything they were supposed to, but it’s the courier that is causing issues, then you would not use our forms or follow this process and instead you would need to deal with the courier directly. Alternatively, if the business did not deliver the item properly as outlined above, then you can follow the steps under the section above entitled “How to cancel your order and request a refund”. Thanks!
“Reasonable notice of delivery”
Can you please define this term?
For a package delivered Via Canpar: They only listed on their website the day it would be delivered with the note “by end of day”.
Their proof of delivery was a Photo.
They did not notify me of the delivery in any way.
I would have had to continuously check their website every minute to find out.
To me, this is not “Reasonable notice of delivery”.
The package was stolen within 2 hours of the delivery. I have filed a police report.
I need to know so that I can determine who is responsible for the package and if I am required to pay the seller despite not receiving the computer.
Hi Maxime, thanks for your question. An estimated delivery date is considered a reasonable notice of delivery. This is typically how businesses do it. The purpose of this is so you have a chance to accept the package. If you know you’re not going to be home to accept a package on a certain day, there are other options for you to consider: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/2019/12/how-to-avoid-porch-pirate-theft/ . I hope this helps and best of luck!
How do I get in contact with the retailer if they are ignoring my e-mails and don’t have a phone number?
Hey Shaina, thanks for your question. If the business isn’t responding to you and you don’t have the package you ordered, you can still follow the steps in the section titled “how to cancel your order and request a refund”. In step 1, the law gives the business 15 days to respond and refund you, if they don’t, you can move to step 2. Best of luck!
Are there any chances to get money back for undelivered package if it was paid by etransfer but not with card?
Hi Anna, thanks for your question. If you’ve waited the full 30 days after the expected delivery date, you can still submit a cancellation form to the business. If they don’t refund you, then you may skip the credit card step above (banks don’t give chargebacks for debit transactions) and submit a complaint form with us. I hope this helps!