Guidance on taking delivery of goods

A clear process is required in order to ensure that all goods procured by the University are accounted for and can be traced. This guide has been created with an aim to enable you and your department to manage deliveries quickly, safely and effectively.

The most common issues surrounding deliveries are over / under deliveries, damaged and incorrect goods. There are a few things which can be done to reduce your risk and liability.

Purchase orders

Firstly, always raise a purchase order, (preferably on CUFS). The order should detail the invoice and delivery address, the date and the date required, your contact details, the products required, quantity, price each and total price and finally a statement confirming that the Universities Standard Terms will apply. All of this information is on the standard CUFS purchase order. Information on how to use the CUFS purchasing module can be obtained from the Procurement Systems Advisor on extension 65101.

It is good practice to ask the supplier for an acknowledgement and check this against the purchase order, if anything is different contact them as soon as possible to advise and ask for a further acknowledgement to confirm they understand. Although this can be done via the telephone the outcome of all conversations should be confirmed in writing and a copy should be retained with the purchase order. It is your responsibility to check that the items ordered are correct.

Taking Delivery

If you are to receive goods which are large or hazardous ensure you are clear about exactly when they will be delivered and arrange for appropriate staff and facilities to be in place. Ideally such goods will be covered by a contract with appropriate special terms and conditions, please contact Procurement Services for advice. If purchasing large items, check that there is adequate space for the item and access for the delivery.

Damaged goods

When a product is delivered check as much as possible whilst the delivery person waits, if they are in a hurry only sign the delivery note if you can also write "unchecked". If boxes look as though they are damaged you have two options:

  1. Refuse the delivery
  2. Accept the delivery, make the delivery person aware and sign for the goods clearly writing damaged on the delivery paperwork

In both situations you should call your supplier immediately and report the problem, back up all telephone calls with a written confirmation. If you arranged the delivery directly with the courier yourself, the responsibility will be yours to prove that it was the courier who caused the damage to the products not you. In this instance it is really important that you acknowledge any damage immediately, directly to the delivery person and then to their employer. If the supplier arranged the delivery, again make the delivery person aware however the seller is responsible for dealing with the problem and have a contractual responsibility to supply you with goods which are of satisfactory quality.

Quantity Discrepancies

It is difficult if you are taking delivery of 1000 files for example; to ensure that you do indeed have the correct number. On occasions such as these the delivery person will not usually wait whilst you count the items. If you sign the delivery note "Unchecked" you have an opportunity to claim if the incorrect quantity has been delivered. The law allows purchasers "A reasonable amount of time" to check deliveries and report faults. It is therefore imperative that deliveries are fully checked as soon as is possible. Any discrepancies, no matter how minor, should be reported immediately to the supplier.

If you have received above the amount you ordered, the supplier must collect the extra items. The supplier may offer to let you keep these items free of charge, especially if they are of a low value. They may also offer to sell you the extra product, often with the promise of a deferred invoice. You are under no obligation to accept either offer.

If you receive less than the amount you ordered:

  1. You may only cancel the balance if you inform the supplier immediately that the remaining quantity is of no use to you due to the delay
  2. You may ask the supplier to deliver at your convenience
  3. You may reject the part order and cancel the balance informing the supplier that the delivery is in breach of contract as the full quantity is required

If you are unsure about how to deal with either damaged deliveries and consignments with quantity discrepancies please contact Procurement Services for advice, extension 32234.

Incorrect goods

If the goods match your purchase order and you have just simply bought the wrong item or ordered the incorrect quantity, it will be down to whether the supplier is willing to assist you or not. The supplier has no legal requirement to accept back goods which you have ordered. However they may be willing to do this if you will accept a restocking fee. In situations like this each case is individual and if you are unsure, please contact Procurement Services.

If the goods do not match your purchase order:

  1. You may reject the delivery and cancel all future deliveries (assuming this is your first instalment)
  2. You may reject the delivery and request a re-delivery within a reasonable amount of time.
  3. You may accept the goods

Again each case is individual and if you need advice please contact Procurement Services.

Commissioning and Installation

If the goods or equipment that you wish to purchase require either commissioning and/or Installation a clear timed schedule should be agreed with the supplier prior to a purchase order being sent and certainly issued to the supplier with the order itself. This schedule will then form part of the contractual relationship with your supplier and will ensure that your entire requirement is fulfilled.


Once the goods have been accepted it is important to receive them against your open purchase order on CUFS. This process ensures that anyone else looking at CUFS can clearly see which stage a purchase order is at. For details on this procedure consult the following web page:

Alternatively, navigate from the CUFS home page through reference, quick reference guides, purchasing and then receiving.

Storing deliveries

Boxes/equipment should not be left where they could be tripped over, knocked down or fall on someone. They should have a designated place, which ensures they are being stored in the most appropriate way. Goods must also be stored in an area which will not affect food or workspace hygiene, i.e. chemicals in a kitchen area. For more information on Health and Safety implications contact the Health and Safety Division on x33301 or view their website:

The storage area should be secure, items should not be accessible to anyone other than those authorised and if necessary a log of items being stored and removed from this area should be implemented.

The shelf life of items should be considered (if applicable), use by dates should be checked as the goods are received and the First in First Out (FIFO) principle should be adopted to issuing the items. Contact Procurement Service for further advice on stock management.