PARCEL DELIVERY CHARGES remain excessive for people in Moray as well as throughout the Highlands and Islands according to local parliamentary representatives.
Richard Lochhead MSP had previously met with representatives of online retailers in an effort to find a way forward on the issue – while Angus Robertson MP, along with Westminster colleagues, raised concerns about the regulation of the parcel delivery sector with the UK Government.
Now a Citizen’s Advice report that outlines how communities throughout the north of Scotland are still facing poor service and increasingly parcel delivery charges has prompted both to hit out over the issue.
Mr Lochhead said: “It is simply not fair that people in Moray are charged excessive amounts when ordering the exact same item as folk in other parts of the country.
“These postcode penalties have also hit our rural businesses hard and there is no real rationale or justification for them. Having been involved in this issue in my capacity as Rural Affairs Minister, and having been contacted by many constituents who have faced these unfair charges, I welcome the Citizens Advice Report. It is important that we keep pressing companies to act in a fair and reasonable manner when it comes to delivery charges.”
His Westminster colleague added: “This issue continues to cause consternation for many constituents in Moray and it is a regular feature of emails and letters that I receive from across the region.
“Some progress is being made and I am hearing of more success stories of surcharges that have been removed when companies have been challenged. Overall there is a roughly 10% reduction in the number of online retailers surcharging that were questioned in the CAS survey – but of the 534 companies survey we still see 44% surcharging and that is still far from good enough.
“The report recommends changes to the Universal Service to take account of the much higher demand for parcels, as opposed to letters, nowadays. These issues have again been raised by the SNP in a recent debate in the House of Commons and we will continue to push these issues at every opportunity.”
There was no great hope from the UK Government over the issue, however, as a minister said he wanted to be “cautious” over passing legislation that imposed flat charges throughout the UK.
Business minister Nick Boles said: “I simply do not believe they would work or would be in the long-term interests of consumers, because it would drive out competitive providers of delivery services.”
Challenge additional charges
A local councillor in Elgin meanwhile has provided his own advice to consumers in Moray, saying they should always question when online retailers seek to impose a surcharge.
Citing his own recent experience, Councillor Graham Leadbitter said: “I recently needed to buy products from the company ECL Plastics and after going through the online purchase they took the payment, only for an email to follow saying there would be a £6 surcharge for me to pay.
“I immediately emailed back challenging them to justify the surcharge and asking them to consider alternative carriers including Royal Mail. I am pleased to say that having been challenged on the surcharge they agreed to ship the items by Royal Mail and the surcharge was not required.
“It is really important that consumers play their part by challenging companies and using their purchasing power.
“My own recent experience shows it can work and I would urge others to do the same and see if we can drive down the number of companies applying these ridiculous and unnecessary charges.”