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Failed Delivery? Fight Back!

'If I waste a day, you'll pay'
Next day delivery box

It's enough to make you growl. You've been told you need to be in for a delivery or service installation - sometimes taking a day off work. Then you wait in all day and they're hours late, or don't turn up.

Yet you can fight back is you know your rights. You may even be able to force compensation for the lost time. The aim's to be reasonable, but with our sometimes rotten delivery culture, we need to start to make them understand there could be consequences when they fail to, er, deliver. Then hopefully standards will improve.

While every effort's been made to ensure this article's accuracy, it doesn't constitute legal advice tailored to your individual circumstances. If you act on, it you do so at your own risk. We can't assume responsibility and don't accept liability for any damage or loss which may arise.

If an item doesn't arrive - your rights

When you order an item from a retailer, you're effectively creating a contract between the two of you, even if it isn't written down. The promised delivery forms a legitimate part of that contract. If the company fails to do what it promised then you've got rights.

First, see if the delivery company can tell you where the missing item is

ring retailerIt's important to understand your contract is with the retailer, not the delivery company. But while it's the retailer you will need to deal with in order to get compensation (see how below), if your parcel is late then in the first instance you may be best off contacting the courier first.

Often delivery companies will have a customer service helpline or even online tracking facilities to help you find out where your delivery's got to. So if you know who's delivering your item it's worth trying them first.

If your delivery is late, you may be able to get a refund or compensation

delivery is lateIf your delivery doesn't show up when it was meant to and in the condition it was meant to, there are three different forms of redress open to you. In brief:

  • Refund. If you ordered online or on the phone, under the Consumer Contracts Regulations you have the right to cancel an order within 14 calendar days and get a full refund, though you may need to pay return delivery costs. You have this right even if an item is delivered on time - but it can be a handy way of getting your money back if you got the delivery late.

    It's worth noting the Consumer Contracts Regulations also explicitly entitle you to a full refund of the delivery charge if you paid extra for something to be delivered by express delivery or on a particular date, and it arrived later than promised. If there's no specified date for delivery, then it must be with you within 30 days of ordering. See the Parcel Delivery Rights guide for full info.

    If you ordered in-store for home delivery - say furniture or anything else substantial - you won't be protected by the Consumer Contracts Regulations. In this case, get 'em to agree to a delivery deadline marked 'time is of the essence', then you'll get a load of extra rights if things go wrong. See Time Is Of The Essence for more details.

  • Compensation for extra time taken off work. If your delivery is late and you arrange for a redelivery, it's also possible to get compensation for extra time taken off work. This guide explains how you can do this in detail - see below.

  • Additional compensation. In some cases it may also be possible to try and claim for additional costs resulting from the late delivery, or even the inconvenience and distress it caused. This can be a grey area and you won't be always be successful but it's worth bearing in mind - see more details on what you can claim below.

Quick questions:

I'm worried a company won't deliver on time, what can I do?

They left a 'missed you' note while I was in!

I've been given a huge delivery time slot, what can I do?

What to do if your item hasn't turned up at all

item not turned upIf the delivery date of your item has long passed, or the courier has told you it's been lost in transit, your next step is to go to the retailer. It's the retailer who's ultimately responsible as that's who your contract is with.

If your item just doesn't turn up then the retailer is in breach of its contract with you, and your consumer rights take effect. This guide is more about redress and compensation for late deliveries - for full details on your rights when shopping, and how to get a refund or replacement, see our Consumer Rights guide.

If your item arrives damaged, you have rights - even if you've signed for it

item arrived damagedSigning for an item just means it's been delivered - you're not signing on the quality of the item delivered. So even if you found any faults or issues after signing for the delivery, you still have the same rights as with any faulty item.

Of course, if you also signed a delivery note stating you'd examined the goods and they were in perfect condition, but later discovered they were damaged, there could be an argument about whether you were responsible for inflicting the damage after delivery.

If this is the case, it's better to change the wording to 'not examined', so it's clear you didn't have the time to do this - otherwise, inspect 'em carefully.

Don't forget the key delivery rights need-to-knows

This guide and our new Parcel Delivery Rights guide give you all the information you'll need if you encounter delivery troubles, but this can be a complex area. So at a glance, here are our top five need-to-knows on the subject:

  • The biggest protection online is you can send it back if it's late. Unlike in stores, buy goods online and the Consumer Contracts Regulations mean you've 14 days after arrival to change your mind and send them back (though you'll pay postage unless something is faulty). So if your parcel doesn't arrive in time, you've the comfort of knowing you can return it.

  • Give delivery instructions when ordering. Shockingly, we often hear horror stories of firms leaving parcels in wheelie bins, under bushes, in BBQs or behind rear car wheels to be reversed over. So if you may be out, tell the delivery company where to leave it, or ask a neighbour to receive it.

  • Your contract is with the store, not the delivery firm. Unless you paid directly for the delivery, then it's the store that owes you a duty of care. Don't let it fob you off, it's the one you paid - and it chose to sub-contract out delivery. So contact it, be firm, be polite, and ask for a refund (and maybe compensation). More help below.

  • If you take time off work and they don't show, claim compensation. For larger deliveries, if you stay in, taking time off work, then you may be entitled to compensation for your time. This is under the rules of 'consequential loss', but you need to legitimately take extra time off to wait in for the delivery for it to work. We've drafted a template letter to help with any claims...

  • Unless it specifically states a delivery date rights are difficult. By law, delivery only needs to be "within a reasonable time", which is normally up to 30 days. For goods ordered in stores for delivery, unless a store has said it will arrive by a set date, it's tricky. So if you are ordering in a store where possible ensure it states this and make it agree 'time is of the essence'.

Get compensation for extra time taken off work

Urgent delivery stampIf your delivery's delayed and you have to take extra time off work to await redelivery, it's possible to get compensation. Of course, we're not talking about when you stay in hoping the delivery may turn up, but when a delivery or installation's been booked for a certain day - and you've arranged to be in specifically to receive it.

While your legal rights can only truly be enforced in court, just knowing and quoting them boosts your chance of success. It's also possible to get compensation for additional costs and even the inconvenience and distress caused by late delivery problems.

Some inspiration before you begin

Wrote to Ikea using the compensation letter template and had great success! They took four attempts to deliver to me, one broken table and a taxi fare. The order was only £60 and I kept the order and got £100 compensation!

By quoting bits from the guide I was able to secure close to £60 for my wasted day. Much better than the £10 offered before I went to this site!

Read more MoneySavers' successes...

If you've successfully used the steps in this guide to get compensation for a failed delivery, please let us know in the forum discussion.

Your relationship is with the retailer - not the courier company

Calling retailerFrom the moment you pay for your goods or service to the second it's delivered, the retailer - not the courier or delivery company - is responsible, as that's who your contract is with. So it should always be your first port of call for any complaints.

Even if you saw the deliverer kick the antique Ming vase you ordered down the stairs to your door, your complaint can go to the retailer rather than the delivery company (though in this example, the deliverer would also be legally responsible to you for damages for 'trespass to goods').

This applies even if you've paid extra for a specific courier company via the retailer. The same rights and remedies apply if you've a contract for installation, or have arranged for a service to be carried out, and it's been breached due to a no-show.

The only exception is if you arranged delivery yourself separately with the courier company. In that it's the core service you've paid for that has failed (full info on that in the Consumer Rights guide).

Compensation depends on whether you've suffered 'consequential loss'

Calling retailerWhenever you buy goods or services, you're technically entering into a contract - even if it's not written down. If a company breaches that contract, you may be eligible for compensation.

This could be for a direct loss (eg, you didn't receive the item), or for an indirect loss occuring as a result of the breach of contract - what's legally known as 'consequential loss'. But if what went wrong made you lose out in additional ways - so, for example, if you have to take another day off work to wait in for a redelivery - you may be able to claim for this.

The point of compensation is to put you in the same position you would have been in had the contract not been broken. So the consequential loss you may be able to claim for, and the amount, depends on if you lost out because of the missed delivery.

Quick questions:

What if the company has a consequential loss exclusion clause?

What kind of thing counts as a consequential loss?

Compensation would be for any EXTRA time you've taken off

Taking extra work offAlthough it might seem slightly unusual, you can't claim compensation for the original no-show day as you haven't technically lost out through this. You were going to take that day off work anyway; the fact it turned out to be futile is aggravating, but not a loss in a legal sense. The key is what's needed to put it right.

So if the end result is you need take a SECOND day (or morning/hour) off for a new date, you should be due compensation for loss of earnings or the holiday you've taken.

To have good grounds for compensation, your complaint needs to be considered reasonable in a court of law. So if the failed delivery happened when the area's roads were closed due to snow, for example, you're less likely to have a strong case than if there were no adverse circumstances.

Quick questions:

Can I claim if I didn't take any extra time off?

What if the deliverer came outside the agreed time window?

How many hours can I claim for?

Can I claim for my time even if I'm on a high salary?

You're expected to try to minimise your loss

Before you can legally claim, you're expected to try to minimise your loss. For example, this means you'd need to try to arrange delivery at a convenient time when you'd be home without incurring problems, or ask a friend, neighbour or family member to wait in for you (if you need to pay them, or for their costs, you could claim that).

Remember, you can always say to the seller: "Look, you've broken the contract. I'm off work from 5pm Saturday or all day Sunday. If you deliver then it'll save you a compensation claim from me, but I won't pay more for that delivery."

But if it can't do any convenient times, and you have to take time off work as a result, it's time to put in a claim.

Buy online or use 'time is of the essence' trick

Taking extra work offThe easy way to ensure you can always get a refund is to buy online. Most goods and services you buy online (or by mail order, or phone) from an EU-based company are covered by Consumer Contracts Regulations. This gives you the right to cancel orders within 14 calendar days and get a full refund, although you may need to pay return delivery costs.

For other orders, there's a useful little legal phrase called 'time is of the essence'. This means when you buy goods or order a service, it must be delivered within a specified time (eg, before Christmas). If this isn't in the agreement and there's no specified date, the only obligation is that it must be delivered within a 'reasonable' time, and that is rather loose.

It's less hassle to try to get this before you buy or order, but you can always make time of the essence without the retailer's consent after it's been guilty of undue delay.

You may be able to claim additional compensation

As well as claiming for extra time taken off work, you may be able to claim for additional compensation as well.

There's nothing to stop you putting in a claim for extra costs incurred if they're legitimate, (eg, phone calls or petrol costs if you had to drive out of your way to collect a parcel) but it's likely to come down to your individual negotiation skills. Keep it reasonable (so no claiming for a private jet to work because your new bike wasn't delivered in time).

You may also be able to put in a reasonable claim for loss of enjoyment of the goods or service because they've been delayed.

For example, this could apply if you missed the Cup Final on your new plasma and had to make do with an old black 'n' white set. Or the new dining suite didn't arrive in time, and you were made to look a fool at a dinner party you'd prepared to show it off because your guests had to sit on the floor.

It's important to note complaints for this are never guaranteed to pay out. But you may want to consider it, particularly if you've suffered substantial distress or inconvenience due to delivery problems (eg, a holiday's been ruined, the dress didn't arrive in time for the wedding, or tile delivery problems meant you had to put up with a leaky roof for weeks).

How to try for compensation

Boxing gloves

The aim here is to use your legal rights to get the company to negotiate compensation without the hassle, expense and risk of going to court.

It's about showing the company that a judge would rule in your favour - so it's in their best interest to reach a reasonable offer of compensation.

You've technically got six years to make a claim in court, but avoid waiting this long. The sooner you complain, the more seriously the retailer's likely to take your claim.

See if you can get a refund or compensation via the company's own late delivery procedure

Some (but not all) companies have a standard procedure to compensate you if they've failed to deliver, so it's well worth a check on the company's website, or call customer services to find out.

This should be your first port of call - any extra compensation's likely to be at the store's discretion so there are no guarantees, but it's certainly worth a try. At the least you should look for a refund on the delivery charge - the Consumer Contract Regulations say if you've paid for express delivery and the delivery's late, you should be able to get a refund for that as a minimum.

Here are the main ones:

Late delivery policies
Company Policy Complain to Main compensation Tell us what happened
Amazon Case-by-case basis Customer services Case-by-case basis Amazon delivery
Argos Case-by-case basis Customer services on 0845 640 2020 Case-by-case basis Argos delivery
Asos Refund delivery + 10% off next order Contact form / Facebook / Twitter Discount code + delivery refund Asos delivery
B&Q Case-by-case basis Store / cust services Case-by-case basisB&Q delivery
Co-op Case-by-case basis Customer relations Co-op vouchers Co-op delivery
Debenhams Case-by-case basis Customer services Case-by-case basis Debenhams delivery
Dixons Case-by-case basis Customer services Case-by-case basis Dixons delivery
eBay Tell buyer protection team within 45 days (only if you paid by PayPal) Buyer protection Refund or replacement eBay delivery
Homebase Case-by-case basis Contact centre on 0845 077 8888 Case-by-case basis Homebase delivery
H of Fraser Case-by-case basis Customer services Case-by-case basis HoF delivery
M&S Case-by-case basis Customer services Gift cards or refund M&S delivery
Ocado Contact cust services Customer services Not stated Ocado delivery
Sainsbury's Case-by-case basis Customer centre Case-by-case basis Sains delivery
Tesco Case-by-case basis Customer services Case-by-case basis Tesco delivery
Waitrose Case-by-case basis Customer support, Facebook / Twitter Case-by-case basis Waitrose delivery
Correct as of 15 December 2014

Even if it has a system in place, this shouldn't stop you from pushing your legal rights if you feel its standard compensation isn't adequate. But if the company's already making you a reasonable offer, you're less likely to get extra compensation on top.

Had failed delivery compensation from a company not listed above?
Please let us know in the Delivery Rights discussion.

Call the company to say it hasn't met expectations

Calling companyIf it doesn't have a standard procedure, or you don't feel its normal compensation offer is adequate, call the company to let 'em know its service "didn't meet your expectations". This applies even if you don't have legal compensation rights. Companies are interested in protecting their reputations and won't want to leave customers disgruntled if they can help it.

Before you call, work out what you really want to achieve and what compensation you'd settle for. Then be reasonable and focus on achieving that, not 'grabbing every penny'.

If you've had to fork out due to the botched delivery, you may want compensation in the form of cash. But if it's simply compensation for extra time and hassle, consider if you'd be happy with a credit note or voucher. Remember, the more you want, the harder it'll be to achieve.

What to say

Ask to speak to the most senior person available (eg, "Can I speak to your manager or supervisor please?") then clearly state your case. Always be firm but polite. Being rude won't help, and it certainly isn't fair to the person you're calling. Try something like this (key legal phrases to use are in red):

"My delivery didn't arrive at the time we agreed, which is a breach of contract. I had to take a second day off work for redelivery, but it's left me out of pocket. I'm calling to claim for this consequential loss, as is my legal right.

My lost wages are £50, but I'm happy to remedy it with a £20 voucher. So if we can reach a settlement now, it'll save you a formal claim for my damages.

If they don't agree, ask what they can offer - they may come back with something else. It's then up to you to consider whether to accept it, but remember, if you turn down a reasonable offer it's less likely you'll get extra compensation on top. Ensure you state what 'remedy' you'd like in any correspondence to ensure it's clear what they need to do to fix it for you.

Write a formal letter asking for compensation

Important letterIf it hasn't offered suitable compensation yet, write a formal letter to the company. This will shift your case up a gear by showing them you know your legal rights, and that you're serious.

Again, while you don't want to take the case to court if at all possible, the letter's about reinforcing that if you did, you'd have a strong case for compensation. So you want to show them they'll save themselves a lot of further hassle and expense by reaching a negotiated settlement now.

To help, we've drafted a template letter with the basic text to get you started. Just delete any parts that don't apply, and send to the retailer. Keep a copy for reference, and send the letter by recorded delivery to make sure it arrives.

FREE template letter. Download a free template letter to claim for delivery compensation. (Problems opening the letter?)

It's worth noting that you could do this by email if you prefer, but it's crucial you receive a response back to acknowledge it, otherwise legally you've no proof it's arrived. So if you send it by email but don't get a response, follow up by posting the letter by recorded delivery.

Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate

Once you've sent the letter, remember, everything hinges on negotiation. If the company gets back to you with an offer of compensation, you need to carefully decide if you want to take it.

  • If you want to accept its offer: Get in touch to let it know and arrange payment. If you want to accept its offer but also you've got another unresolved complaint relating to it, say you're accepting its compensation 'without prejudice' to your outstanding claim. Using this specific term is crucial, as it means the offer isn't binding or usable against you in any further legal processes.

  • If you don't feel it's enough: You could try to negotiate a higher settlement. If you decide to do this, clearly state what you'd be prepared to settle for, and reiterate the reasons, costs and evidence you have to back these up.

    This is going to depend largely on your negotiating skills, but don't forget - it's never guaranteed the company will meet your counter-offer, and it may renege on its first offer.

Even if it's less than you originally asked for, it may be worth accepting the company's offer to save the hassle of court action. Yet there are no rights and wrongs here; it's about how hard you're prepared to push. If thinking of taking it to court, ensure you read the next section for full pros 'n' cons first. Please do report how you get on in the Delivery Rights discussion.

If all else fails: how to take 'em to court

Broken piggy bank Hopefully the letter should settle it. But if you've tried all the steps above and it still hasn't offered you a satisfactory settlement, taking it to the small claims court is a last resort.

Important note: This step is based on the process for England and Wales. We've included the basics for the rest of the UK, but for more see the Northern Ireland Courts and Scottish Small Claims sites.

This option isn't for everyone. If you're a court novice, maybe try to seek help from a legal friend or advice centre.

The only person who can force action is a county court judge (sheriff court in Scotland) but don't always think judges and wigs; this is often just a case of filling in some forms online.

Sometimes simply doing this will mean a company settles (assuming you've a decent legal claim), so you might not have to go all the way to court. Remember, you've a legal right to fair treatment, and it's rare to have to pay the other side's costs, so it's relatively risk-free but do read on to see if it's the right thing for you.

It's also worth noting that it isn't generally a quick process. Court action can take about six months, so do factor this in if you decide to go for it.

Think very carefully about whether you want the hassle of this process and whether it's worth it. It's far better to use this as a last resort threat and settle with the company if possible.

Try to go through the smalls claims process

Many people talk of going to the small claims court, yet it doesn't actually exist. It's a system within the civil claims procedure where many claims for under £10,000 are allocated, and a local county court judge makes the process as informal as possible.

In difficult cases (and always for those above £10,000) you may be allocated the 'fast track' or the 'multi track' system, which is beyond the scope of this guide, see the Ministry of Justice for more info. If that happens, it's worth really considering whether you should carry on as there can be cost implications. Here's one MoneySaver's experience for inspiration:

I successfully won a small claims case for damages after a failed delivery, despite the company's terms stating it wasn't responsible for failed deliveries. I won every penny I claimed, including £660.77 for late delivery damages.

Of course, for belt and braces you could consider hiring a lawyer for larger claims; see the Law Society website for more.

Key points:

You shouldn't have the other party's costs awarded against you

Try to resolve things directly first

Remember to factor in the fees

It's designed so you can go it alone

Be careful if you go over £10,000

There are different limits in Scotland and NI

Making a court claim online

Papperwork to make a claim online

The main part of your claim involves filling in a form called a 'Particulars of Claim' ('Statement of Claim' in Scotland). This is a statement telling your side of the story. You need to include full details of what you're claiming for and why.

It's better to claim a fixed total amount (eg, 'damages of £5,000') rather than an amount set by the court, as this should avoid a hearing where the amount has to be decided by a judge.

Read more on the UK's online claim systems.

Sadly, even if you win in court or by default it doesn't mean they'll pay up automatically. If the company doesn't pay, you've a right to send the bailiffs in to claim the money, but it'll cost you another £100, which you should also get back if you win. See the Ministry of Justice website for more or ask a question in the consumer rights forum. Please report back on how you get on.

Always weigh up the costs and headache of continuing before making a decision. Sometimes it may be better to call it a day.

Safeguard against future problems

Though you may be able to get compensation if the worst happens, it's far less stressful if a delivery goes as planned. Use these quick tips to help future deliveries go smoothly.

Order the right way

A little extra planning can go a long way towards helping your parcel reach the right destination on time.

Thanks to MoneySaver audirob for these insider tips, please add yours in the Failed Delivery Fight Back discussion:

Add a contact number. I'm a trainer for a delivery company. When ordering online, in the third line of address detail that's rarely used, put your phone number. As this will always be printed on the delivery label and handheld scanner, the driver can call if he has problems locating you.

Leave a note. If you know you're having a delivery, leave a note on the door or window specifying which neighbour will take your delivery in your absence.

Tell 'em where to stick it. If you want the parcel left, leave a signed note saying where. The driver can take that away and leave the parcel as instructed.

Pass it on. As MSE is well viewed I hope many people will see this and hopefully improve your delivery success. I deliver between 50-110 stops per day and if people would do the above it would make things so much easier.

Become a roboshopper for rights to a refund

Become a roboshopper: Research offline, buy online

Many worry about online shopping safety, but in terms of consumer rights it's a blessing. The Consumer Contracts Regulations mean that if you buy online or by phone from an EU-based company, you've a right to change your mind within 14 calendar days, even if there's no fault.

Just send the goods back to get a refund of the price and original delivery charge - though not the cost of returning it. Once you've cancelled your contract, you'll have a further 14 days to return the goods.

This is why many people have become ‘roboshoppers' - researching offline, buying online. This is especially worth it for bigger items; go to the shops to look, then order online for extra rights. See Martin's Roboshopper blog.

The Consumer Contracts Regulations are also helpful if you're ordering for a certain delivery date (eg, in time for a birthday or Christmas). Let's say you order a games console online for a Christmas pressie. If it doesn't arrive by Christmas Eve as promised, these rights mean you can just buy one in store, send back the original when it arrives, and get a full refund.

If you need to send it back, it's likely you'll need to pay for the return delivery, but they should refund the original delivery cost.

Here's a quick summary of what the Consumer Contracts Regulations cover - see Rights when buying online for more:

  • What's covered? Goods or services from an EU-based business via mail order, phone or online.

  • How long do you have to cancel? You've got 14 calendar days after you receive goods. If you've ordered a service it's 14 calendar days after the service commences, although you may be expected to pay for any service you've used between when the contract was commenced and when you chose to cancel.

  • How long do you have to send it back? After cancelling, you have a further 14 days to send the item back.

  • What's NOT covered? Exceptions include fresh food and flowers (for obvious reasons of decay!), personalised goods, accommodation/transport/leisure services purchased for a particular timeframe, newspapers and magazines, lottery tickets, sealed audio, video or computer software that has been opened or a service that has already started. You also can't cancel if you have examined the goods in a shop then ordered from the same retailer online and this inspection was specifically noted as part of the purchase contract.

  • How can you cancel? You usually need to write to let the seller know, although some allow you to cancel by phone. As soon as you've cancelled, take good care of all of the goods in your contract, as you have to send them all back in reasonable condition (but not necessarily in the same packaging). You'll also usually be asked to pay for return delivery, unless the seller doesn't say this in its T&Cs, or the goods were faulty.

  • How do you get your refund? The seller must then pay back any cash within 14 days of receipt of your items or cancellation of the service, including cost of delivery to you - although be sure to specifically ask for this to be included as some stores don't add it automatically. If it didn't tell you about your cancellation rights, you may have longer to cancel the order.

Use the 'time is of the essence' trick

alarm clockIf all else fails and you need an item delivered by a specific time or date, there's a little-known rule of contract law you can use to give yourself extra consumer protection.

Get the company to agree to a delivery deadline marked 'time is of the essence', and you'll qualify for a load of extra rights if things go wrong.

If you don't state this, the only obligation on the company is that it must deliver within a 'reasonable' time, so it'd be solely down to your negotiation skills to get your money back (see above).

Make it clear that 'time is of the essence', and if goods don't arrive by the specified date, or a service start or finish date isn't met, you'll be legally entitled to cancel your contract and demand any linked credit agreement be annulled or deposit refunded. Or if you'd rather, you can choose to continue, but at a lower price:

refuse or agree picture

  • Use it in store. Add 'time is of the essence' to beef up your rights when ordering in store.
  • It adds to your consumer rights. This is because buying in store means you wouldn't be covered by the Consumer Contracts Regulations which only protect you when buying online, by mail order or phone from an EU-based company. They mean you're already automatically entitled to a refund if an item isn't delivered by the agreed date, or within 30 days if there is no agreed date.
  • They don't have to agree. It's there to put into practice, but it doesn't automatically mean the trader will agree. As with any consumer rights, whether it's binding would ultimately be down to a judge to decide (if it gets that far).
  • This is a relatively unknown trick. 'Time of the essence' isn't widely known because companies simply don't want to be held to such close account for delivery. It'd mean businesses would be forced to improve delivery service, which would be better for consumers - but at the company's expense.

So if you need your goods or service by a specific date (eg, a present in time for Christmas, or windows fitted before you go on holiday), use this to build up extra legal ammunition.

While it's theoretically possible to add 'time is of the essence' to your contract if you've already ordered, it's far easier to add it when ordering.

It is also possible to add 'time is of the essence' after you've ordered, especially if they are playing games with delivery. However, companies may refuse and then it'll be up to the courts to decide.

See how to add time is of the essence