Consumer rights awareness group Which? has called for online retailers and parcel carriers to improve the quality of their delivery services with the launch of its Stamp Out Dodgy Deliveries campaign ahead of the busy Christmas period.

The launch coincides with the publication of the result of a Which? survey of 10,450 consumers, which revealed one in four online shoppers had a problem with a delivery in the last year.

With a third of those surveyed stating that not being able to choose a time irritated them, Which? has now called for parcel carriers and retailers to provide specific time-slots for deliveries; inform customers of the estimated delivery time; and ask customers to specify what to do if the delivery is unsuccessful.

With the Christmas peak fast approaching, the campaign has already received strong support. More than 15,000 consumers have signed a petition to stamp out ‘dodgy’ deliveries so far, and Which? hopes to receive the support of 20,000 consumers.

But parts of the survey have been criticised by courier brokerage ParcelHero. Which? said consumers rated delivery by courier as the least satisfactory delivery method, but ParcelHero doesn’t agree that all couriers should be lumped into the same category.

“There are a large number of couriers in the marketplace, not all of which aspire to the same standards. Just as with cars or clothing, some companies will be good, others not so good. Which? certainly cannot tar all with the same brush,” said a spokesman.

"It is hugely annoying if someone has deliberately taken time off work not to receive a parcel when you expect it, but couriers are occasionally at the mercy of road closures and weather conditions outside our control,” he added.

With companies such as Yodel, APC and Royal Mail making significant investments to bring in enough resource ahead of December, parcel carriers certainly appear to be putting service first in what is such a crucial period.