RICHARD LOCHHEAD HAS expressed his profound disappointment at the response from the UK Government over action required against excessive delivery charges to Moray.
The MSP wrote to the UK Government back in September to highlight the level of discrimination people in Moray and throughout the North of Scotland are facing at the hands of businesses who hike up such charges.
He has called for support to end the unfair practices once and for all – urging the Westminster Parliament to introduce regulations that ensure everyone is treated the same no matter where they live in the UK.
In her response, the UK Government Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, Margot James MP, appears to accept there is a problem – but at the same time told Mr Lochhead that “regulating prices or intervening in how businesses establish their pricing structures would not be in consumers’ best interests”.
That is a position that her Conservative colleague, Moray MP Douglas Ross, would not agree with, Mr Ross having made it clear in his own maiden speech that a fair deal on delivery charges for Moray and the north of Scotland was a personal priority.
Mr Lochhead has described the Tory Government’s reply as a kick in the teeth, pointing out that the lack of regulation is allowing businesses to rip off rural customers.
He said: “People in Moray are sick to the back teeth of being ripped off by greedy companies who think it is acceptable to slap a whopping big delivery charge onto their order because they have an AB or IV postcode.
“Over the years I’ve challenged companies who are guilty of these unfair practices when they’ve been brought to my attention and companies I have contacted changed their policies and as a result saving customers a lot of expense. But the scale of the problem is so huge that we really need a permanent solution put in place, which is why I wrote to the UK Government urging them to consider action including exploring the case for legislation.
“I’m sorely disappointed that the response from the Conservative Minister to this request is to say that regulation wouldn’t be in consumers’ best interests, despite acknowledging there is a problem, especially after I’d provided her with a number of examples of the rip off culture that exists as a result of business being free to charge Moray and Highland customers whatever they like.
“My constituents can be sure that I will continue to pursue the issue of delivery charges with the UK Government and relevant organisations, and that I will continue to pull companies up on dodgy behaviour until these unfair practices end once and for all, and rural customers are finally treated equally.”