Protecting vulnerable people from harassment and stress
Delivery firms urged to draw up a code of conduct
17 January 2020
A leading Sutton Coldfield solicitor says kind elderly residents are facing unnecessary anxiety because they are being constantly asked to accept deliveries for neighbours who have gone out.
Richard Kerry, of Bell Lax Solicitors, spoke out after advising a client that delivery giant Amazon should fit one of its Ring smart doorbells at the Midlands home of his 94-year-old mother.
The lady’s son had sought legal advice from Sutton’s biggest legal firm because she was constantly asked to accept deliveries for her neighbours.
Now Mr Kerry is backing calls made by campaigner Esther Rantzen for delivery firms to draw up a code of conduct when asking the elderly to take in parcels.
He said: “This is happening more and more often, because of the explosion we have seen in home delivery services. For vulnerable residents it can cause significant anxiety.
“Our client originally enquired about taking out an injunction against the delivery firm because he was so fed up of his mother being asked to take in parcels. He calculated that she had been asked to take in around 30 parcels a year for two years, almost acting as a local delivery hub for the area.
“We advised him that taking a legal route like that would be long and expensive, and suggested that a smart doorbell system would actually allow him to monitor who was calling at his mother’s door.”
On taking delivery of one large item, the weight of the parcel caused Betty Wright, 94, to fall to the floor. She escaped the incident with just bruises, but was left shaken.
Her son, Bill, had made multiple complaints to Amazon about the deliveries to his mother but the parcels kept coming. His frustration even led to him calling the police.
Amazon has now taken steps to ensure Betty will not be asked to take any more parcels, fitting one of its Ring smart doorbells to her property.
She has also received an apology, flowers, and a gift hamper. Amazon urged people who do not wish to take parcel deliveries to contact its helpline.
Last month Dame Esther Rantzen, founder of SilverLine which helps the elderly, called for retailers and delivery firms to devise a code of conduct to prevent vulnerable residents from being exploited.
She said: “It would be right to create a code of conduct that ensured that if elderly people do not want to take in parcels for their neighbours, they do not have to feel obliged to do so.”
She added that residents should be given signs for their front doors, saying: “I am afraid I am unable to take in parcels for my neighbours”, so delivery men know to stay away.
Mr Kerry, who is legal director at Bell Lax, said a code of conduct would reduce unnecessary anxiety for vulnerable residents and avoid the need for stressful legal action – and he urged the legal profession to back Dame Esther’s call.
“Good solicitors know the best solution isn’t always a potentially lengthy and expensive legal battle,” he said.
“Sometimes it can be something the client simply hasn’t thought of, that doesn’t involve the legal process at all. A fresh pair of eyes can often help find the most effective solution.”
Pictured: Betty Wright, 94, was asked to take in so many parcels for her neighbours that her frustrated son called the police