SCOTLAND’S FIRST MINISTER has expressed her shock at delivery surcharges being added to the online shopping baskets of unsuspecting Halfords customers living in Moray and other parts of Scotland.
Last week insideMoray exclusively revealed that while Halfords charged reasonable rates for shipping their own goods to Moray, the same was not true of ‘partner’ companies who were permitted to sell goods via their website.
Following insideMoray revealing that a standard £50 delivery charge was being asked of Moray customers, Halfords promised to look again at the policy. However, on Thursday we visited their site and chose three items supplied through the site by three different partner companies.
The items, priced at £39.99, £17.99 and £3.10, each attracted the same standard delivery price to our Lossiemouth address of £50 – indicating that nothing had change, and indeed the £50 was a standard charge laid on any items that were not being supplied directly by Halfords.
The overcharging reached the ears of Nicola Sturgeon this week via a question at the Holyrood parliament posed by Richard Lochhead MSP, who said that his constituent had been “treated with contempt” adding: “To make matters worse, they have implied that the high charge is to put off customers in the north of Scotland from ordering. So much for the season of goodwill.
“Would the First Minister agree that as more and more rural residents buy online in the run up to Christmas, that they should not be treated with this contempt or fleeced by greedy companies or discriminated against for living in the north of Scotland.”
In reply Ms Sturgeon said: “The level of charge that Richard Lochhead has outlined today is shocking – certainly based on what he has said today, it seems vastly out of proportion and, yes, I am in full agreement that excessive charging for parcel deliveries is unacceptable.”
Last week Halfords told insideMoray that they were working with companies who use their online platform to review the current practice and help “reach a more cost-effective resolution for customers ordering from these marketplace suppliers”.
Ms Sturgeon said that it was a matter for the UK Government to take action as they had the power to prevent over the top charging for delivery – she added that she would be pressing for action on the issue.
When we broke this story a week ago Halfords reacted immediately to limit the damage – we were happy to publish their comments on December 9, expecting that they would take immediate action to halt the practice.
However, our exercise yesterday demonstrated that they had failed to do so – indeed, the fact that we chose goods from three different suppliers at three different prices at random, but produced the same £50 delivery demand at checkout, demonstrated that this was not an isolated supplier issue.
The Halfords website automatically applies a £50 delivery charge for IV postcodes – and worse, those who fall foul of this automated daylight robbery by ordering more than one item from a so-called ‘partner’ supplier could face the same demand for each item – as our Halfords ‘shopping basket’ shows, a total £150 charge for delivery of three items valued at just over £60.
Halfords own the website, the checkout is under Halfords name – they have the power to halt the practice, blaming others for their shortcomings is just not on.
That is something they should do, now, or else continue to risk the obvious displeasure of their thousands of customers not only in Moray and the Highlands but throughout Scotland.
And more – action is needed now against companies who continue to treat Moray as if it were a remote island. They, and the UK Government, need to wake up and smell the Whisky – people in this part of the world should be treated with more respect.