Kiwis have been waiting more than a month for overseas parcels containing Christmas presents, as mail authorities here squabble with a popular British-based online book store over who is to blame.

Customs and New Zealand Post say The Book Depository is using cheap, slow international delivery options at a crucial time in the year.

However, the company says it uses a premium service, even though it offers free freight to New Zealand.

The row has flared as customers wait for deliveries on items ordered in October that should have arrived within two weeks.


Aucklander Eileen Joy has been waiting a month to receive books dispatched by The Book Depository and said it had well exceeded the normal delivery time. Six of 10 books, including some Christmas presents for her children, were still unaccounted for.

"I don't know how extensive it is but I do know everyone I have spoken to who has ordered through The Book Depository is having problems in getting things for Christmas," Ms Joy said.

The Book Depository managing director, Kieron Smith, said the company was working hard to discover what was causing the delays.

"The Book Depository delivers to New Zealand using an expedited, direct, premium service," he said. "Books are flown seven days a week directly from Britain to New Zealand and handed straight to New Zealand Post. We are not using an economy service and are confident that all orders are arriving in New Zealand within seven working days of dispatch from our UK fulfilment centre."

But New Zealand Post spokesman Michael Tull said there were no delays with parcels being processed once they arrived at the International Mail Centre near the Auckland Airport.

"NZ Post's inquiries showed hold-ups were occurring while the parcels were being transported from Europe to New Zealand because they were sent on a low priority service."

A New Zealand Customs spokesperson said claims on The Book Depository's Facebook page that the delays were the result of a backlog or shortage of Customs staff were "incorrect and misleading".

New Zealand Customs said mail items were being processed as soon as they arrived.