Citizens Advice Scotland has welcomed the latest moves to bring fair delivery charges to people in rural areas, calling it a classic ‘peoples campaign’.
Scottish Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing MSP will announce new initiatives in Inverness on Friday 29th November to curb excessive fees and make charges more transparent. The Scottish CAB service’s campaign on this issue has heard from over 3,000 Scots reporting unfair treatment by delivery companies.
Welcoming today’s announcements, CAS Chief Executive Margaret Lynch says,
“It was three years ago that we started our campaign on this issue. Initially it was Skye & Lochalsh CAB who mobilised people in their community to stand up and fight for a fair deal from delivery companies. Then other rural CAB offices picked up the campaign, and it was clear we had really touched an issue of huge concern across the country.
“When we made it a national CAB campaign, we were frankly overwhelmed by the response. In just a few weeks we had over 3,000 Scots telling us how they had been hit by misleading websites, poor service and unfair fees. That’s the biggest response to any survey we have ever ran, on any issue.
“It’s that pressure that has achieved the progress that we’ve seen on this issue, and that we are continuing to see today. This has been a real peoples’ campaign.
“Since that survey we have worked with other consumer groups and partners like Trading Standards, Consumer Futures and others in a broad front to fight for those people. And we’re pleased that Ministers and the delivery industry are now taking the issue so seriously. The UK government ‘summit’ on Tuesday, and this Scottish government initiative today are signs of that.
“This is a long campaign and there’s a lot more to be done. We’ll continue to attend these meetings and stand up for the 1million Scottish consumers who we’ve found are being penalised just because of their postcode. It’s unacceptable, and we want to see real action in moving towards a delivery service that’s fair for everyone. But thanks to all those people who responded to our campaign, we can continue the fight for a fair deal.”
Notes to editors - click to expand/collapse
Just under a year ago, CAS published a detailed research report on this issue, ‘Postcode Penalty.’ This can be seen at /publications/postcode-penalty
Key findings of that report:
- 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.
What can you do?
If you have experienced unfair delivery practices, you can complain to the retailer. There are template letters on our website www.citizensadvice.org.uk Or you can call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06. We’ll pass the right information onto Trading Standards and advise you on how to resolve the issue.