Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) have urged MPs to back a bill today in Westminster today which is aimed at cracking down on companies who impose unfair charges on delivery to Scottish postcodes.
CAS published a report on this issue last year which found that 1million Scots live in areas which are exploited by companies who charge excessive fees, and whose websites give inaccurate or misleading information about their delivery charges.
Using our research, Aberdeenshire MP Sir Robert Smith has tabled a Private Members Bill on the issue, which is being debated at Westminster today.
CAS Chief Executive Margaret Lynch says,
“We started our campaign on this issue three years ago, and we were really overwhelmed by the public response. In just a few months, over 3,500 Scots contacted us to report examples of being exploited by unfair delivery fees. And our research showed that the problem does not just affect rural and island areas but much of the country. It’s clearly a massive consumer issue which causes huge concern to people across Scotland, and is long overdue for action.
“Today’s debate is another opportunity for MPs to say what they are going to do about the issue. We urge all Scottish MPs to speak up for the 1million Scots who have been ripped off unfairly just because of where they live. Even those MPs who are unable to speak in the debate should issue statements and make clear where they stand on this. We don’t just want words but pledges of action.
“Meanwhile, we urge consumers to keep reporting examples of being unfairly charged. They can do so via our Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06. Our campaign has already persuaded a number of companies to revise their delivery fees, and we can do more. But only if people give us the evidence of which companies are acting unfairly.”
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Notes to editors - click to expand/collapse
Sir Robert Smith has a petition on the issue.
Last year’s CAS report on this issue, ‘Postcode Penalty,’ is at at /publications/postcode-penalty. This report was based on direct evidence from 3,500 Scots, and includes a number of case studies.
The report’s 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.