A North-east MSP was today due to lead a parliamentary debate calling for a review of “unacceptable” delivery charges.
Richard Lochhead, the SNP MSP for Moray, is spearheading the debate in the Scottish Parliament after research revealed online shoppers in the north and North-east pay at least 30% more on average in delivery charges than consumers elsewhere in Britain.
After the findings from Citizens Advice Scotland, Mr Lochhead’s website and petition calling for an end to the higher charges received more than 1,500 submissions.
CAS said the issue affects anyone ordering goods north of the Central Belt, including Perth and Kinross, Aberdeenshire, Argyll and Bute, the north-west Highlands and the islands.
The organisation has called on parcel companies to consider collaborating and for the public sector to reduce their operating costs, as a way to drive down delivery charges for consumers.
One consumer told the campaign they faced a £32.99 fee for delivering a referee’s whistle to Elgin because they had an IV postcode, whereas an AB postcode was only charged a standard £4.95 fee.
However, some retailers apply surcharges on AB and other Scottish postcodes as well.
Mr Lochhead said: “Rural Scotland was a hotspot for online shopping on Black Friday weekend according to the Royal Mail, and now that consumers are turning their minds to Christmas they could be faced with surcharges simply because of their postcode.
“It’s completely unacceptable and discriminates against much of Scotland.
“Citizens Advice Scotland’s research found that people in the Highlands and Islands can be asked to pay almost four times as much as the rest of the UK for delivery of parcels.
And shoppers based in towns in the north of Scotland, despite being served by major trunk roads, are being told they don’t qualify for “mainland UK” delivery rates.”
Mr Lochhead added that he intended to highlight examples of “location discrimination” in the debate.
He said: “Retailers should be forced to adopt set standards for deliveries to each and every corner of the UK, as well as improved rules that stop them from slapping delivery surcharges on orders once they’ve been placed.”
After the report was published CAS consumer spokeswoman Nina Ballantyne, said: “This is not just a problem for remote and rural areas.
The areas affected include Perthshire, Moray, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City, as well as the Highlands and Islands.
“In addition, many online retailers are not transparent about the charges. So, consumers are unable to make informed choices.”