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Rural Scots still being ripped off by unfair delivery charges

8 Sep 2015

A new report published today (Tuesday) reveals that a million consumers in rural Scotland are still being hit by unfair delivery charges. The report is the latest in a long campaign by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), and comes on the day that MPs are due to debate the issue in the House of Commons.

Since 2012 CAS has published several reports showing that as many as a million Scots are hit by unfair surcharges, late delivery or excluded from delivery altogether when they shop online. Since then, working with governments and a number of other partners like Trading Standards, we have published further evidence showing the impact of the problem on rural businesses as well as consumers. 

Today we publish our latest evidence report, The Postcode Penalty: The Distance Travelled. This is a survey of the business practices of the same 534 online retailers we first surveyed in 2012. It shows that over the last three years the problem has not gone away. Indeed, while fewer online retailers impose surcharges for delivery to the Highlands and Islands, those who do actually charge more than they did three years ago. (Scots in the Highlands now pay 17.6% more than in 2012 and those in the Islands pay 15.8% more).  

Publishing the report, CAS Consumer spokesperson Sarah Beattie-Smith says,

The problem of high delivery charges for consumers in rural and remote areas continues to cause hardship for people right across Scotland, impacting higher in the Scottish Highlands and Islands more than in other areas of the UK.

“Our campaign has had some success in persuading individual delivery companies to change their ways. For example today’s report shows that fewer retailers now refuse to deliver to remote areas than was the case in 2012, and fewer add a surcharge. Online retailers are also more likely to comply with regulations. These are important successes for the campaign. 

“However, where a surcharge is applied, Highland and Island consumers pay even more than they did three years ago, despite average delivery charges falling in real terms. So these consumers pay roughly four times the average costs for delivery. 

“Scots in rural areas understand that it costs a little more to deliver to remote areas, but this report shows that surcharges add to a “rural premium” and can have a serious impact on businesses and the rural economy. Today we’re calling for a concerted effort by both Governments, working with enterprise bodies and the online retail industry itself. Together we can and must achieve a fairer deal for consumers.”

Today’s CAS report is attached. It includes a number of recommendations for both the Scottish and UK governments, as well as for businesses and other consumer groups (see below). It also includes more details of the research outlined above, and the methodology of that research.

MPs are due to debate the issue on Tuesday evening in an adjournment debate brought by the Northern Ireland MP Gavin Robinson. A number of Scottish MPs are due to speak. 

For more information on this story, or to set up interviews etc. please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010 or 07774 751655.

 

 

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