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Campaign sees massive surge in new responses

19 Dec 2011

500 New Responses in Just 5 Hours as Survey Re-Opens!

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) have received over 500 new responses from angry members of the public in just a few hours today, since re-opening their survey this morning into unfair rural delivery charges.

The huge surge comes after the charity published the results of the survey it initially held in November. 900 people respond to that, reporting how many companies charge huge excess fees to deliver goods to rural customers, or in some cases don’t deliver to ‘remote’ areas at all.

CAS spokesperson Sarah Beattie-Smith said today,

“This response today is really astonishing, and reveals an extraordinary level of anger about this issue. We had thought the 900 responses we received in November was a massive response. To get over half that again in just a few hours is amazing!

“We obviously haven’t evaluated the new data yet, but the scale of the response shows that this is a campaign that has really caught the imagination of people in rural Scotland, and that the problem is a lot more widespread than people perhaps realised.

“Already we can see that the new responses today come from people all across Scotland – including the north east, the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, as well as Perthshire and Stirlingshire, Fife and Angus. Even people in the urban central belt are aware of the problem and have their own experience of it. This is not just a Highland & Islands issue.”

The CAS report published today shows how the November survey exposed huge levels of anger among rural consumers about how they are treated by online sellers. Respondents named over 300 companies who have given them these problems. NB Many of the respondents have agreed to talk to the media as case studies.

Citizens Advice Scotland are now calling for change, and have outlined a three-point pledge they want all companies to sign up to. They are asking all online sellers to:

  1. comply with the law, by clearly displaying delivery costs on their website prior to the point of sale.
  2. ensure that any charges are based on actual costs incurred (rather than arbitrary charges based on postcodes).
  3. Offer delivery via Royal Mail wherever possible, rather than expensive couriers.

Sarah Beattie-Smith says,

“We want to be very clear about our objectives in this campaign. The practices we have uncovered are simply unfair and need to be addressed. Rural consumers don’t want any special treatment – they just want a fair deal. We aim to secure real change in the way online companies treat rural customers.

“Over the next few weeks we will be writing to the companies named in the survey, and inviting them to consider our three-point pledge, in the light of our evidence. The three points we have outlined are not unreasonable. Indeed we would say that they are common sense, and should not inconvenience any business. What is unfair about asking for the delivery fee to be based on the actual cost of delivering the item?

“We believe that many of the companies who are operating unfairly are doing so through lack of information. For example they may not know that Royal Mail delivers to all UK addresses, or that in rural areas the costs of delivery often vary enormously within the same postcode. If we can show them that they are being unfair to rural customers – and in the process shutting off a potential market for themselves – we think some of them may change their policies. We will publish the results of that correspondence in the New Year, along with the new evidence we are gathering now in the survey.

“In the meantime, anyone who wants to report their experience can do so through our survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FreeDelivery. The CAB service will always fight for a fair deal for Scotland’s consumers. This is ‘people power’ in action, and the more evidence we have, the better the chance we can secure change!”

For more information, or to interview case studies, please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010 or 07774 75165.

The CAS report can be downloaded from the bottom of this page.

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