Scotland’s enterprise minister has added his voice to calls for an end to unfair delivery charges being imposed on people living in the Highlands and Islands.
Fergus Ewing has written to businesses asking how they intend to make sure people who live in rural areas are not discriminated against by firms opting to charge substantially more to deliver to remote communities than to less isolated parts of the UK.
Mr Ewing and Trisha McAuley, Scotland director of the Consumer Futures watchdog, have jointly written to businesses asking how they plan to promote a new ‘statement of principles’, agreed by industry, government, trading standards and consumer groups, calling on businesses to avoid charging disproportionate delivery costs, provide greater transparency and provide the widest possible delivery coverage.
“Although the principles are voluntary,” Mr Ewing said, “we believe they will help to support businesses and reduce the number of customers who abandon purchases at the last minute because they find out the cost of delivery.
“It is not acceptable to hear reports of customers in the Highlands and Islands experiencing excessive charges, being refused delivery and being misled by the term ‘Free Delivery’.
“We would encourage retailers to take on board these guidelines and in turn customers, particularly in the Highlands and Islands, will receive a fairer service and abidance by their adoption of these guidelines online retailers will show respect for their customers.”
Meanwhile, businesses across the Highlands and Islands have been urged to complete an online survey set up to assess the impact of higher delivery charges on rural businesses and communities.
Labour MSP for the region Rhoda Grant said: “Consumers and businesses across the region have been getting a raw deal on postage for too long now. I believe the results of this survey will put pressure on the Government, regulators and suppliers to ensure the region gets a fair deal on postage.
“We need to pressure everyone involved to get their postal mapping right which would stop people being charged inflated delivery charges calculated by guesswork in many cases.”
Click here to complete the survey, which is open until 5pm on Friday, March 14.