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CAS backs new bid to tackle postal delivery 'rip-off'

Citizens Advice Scotland is urging MPs of all parties to back a new bill in Parliament which aims to tackle the problem of unfair delivery charges in rural Scotland. 

The bill is being brought by West Aberdeenshire MP Sir Robert Smith, and will be debated at Westminster this Friday. Sir Robert is launching a campaign and petition on the issue today (Monday 9th September) at Westhill CAB in his constituency. This follows intensive campaigning on this issue by the Scottish CAB service over the last few years.

Citizens Advice Scotland’s Chief Executive Margaret Lynch says, 

“The Scottish CAB service has been fighting on this issue for the last few years, gathering and published extensive evidence showing how bad the problem is. Our research found that 1 million Scots had been ripped-off by high delivery charges just because of their postcode. Some were being charged up to 500% more than the standard delivery rate.   

“When we published that evidence, we received positive feedback from all the political parties, and we have continued to have useful discussions with them. This bill gives them a new chance to say what they are actually going to do about the problem. We look forward to hearing what they have to say.” 

Notes to editors: 

The CAS report, ‘Postcode Penalty’ (2011) can be downloaded at /publications/postcode-penalty

Its key findings were:

  • At least 1 million Scots face surcharges, late delivery or are refused delivery altogether when they try to buy goods online
  • Consumers in Scotland’s island communities face a postcode penalty of nearly £19 extra (£18.60) to deliver goods they buy online – that’s a 500% mark up on the standard delivery price. Consumers in the Highlands are charged an extra £15 per delivery on average
  • Of the 534 retailers whose policies we investigated, 335 of them (63%) charged extra for delivery to certain parts of the UK.  72% of those surcharges applied to consumers in Scotland, indicating that Scottish consumers are disproportionately affected by delivery surcharges
  • 55% of retailers who restricted the areas of the UK to which they would deliver refused to deliver goods to any Scottish islands, disadvantaging the estimated 100,000 people who live in island communities
  • Ofcom’s latest statistics show that UK shoppers spent an average of £1000 on online shopping on 2011
  • 85% of the consumers who responded to our survey said they would warn family and friends against using a retailer with unfair delivery practices
  • 34% of retailers we investigated said that delivery would take longer for consumers in some parts of the UK.  39% of these retailers took an extra three or more days to deliver to consumers in certain parts of Scotland, with some customers waiting as long as 35 extra days for delivery compared the rest of the UK
  • 69% of retailers we investigated did not offer delivery by Royal Mail, despite the Royal Mail’s universal service obligation meaning that delivery by this method costs the same across the UK.