Delivery surcharges costing more
A MILLION consumers in the Highlands and islands are still paying more for deliveries because of surcharges, research has shown.
The figures, released by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), show that in the three years since last highlighting the Scots postcode lottery, surcharges for deliveries have increased.
The CAS report, published on Tuesday, looked at fees charged by 534 internet outlets. It shows that while fewer online retailers impose surcharges for delivery to the Highlands and islands, those who do charge more than they did three years ago.
Scots in the Highlands now pay 17.6 per cent more and those living on islands pay 15.8 per cent more for deliveries, according to the figures.
When facing a surcharge, a consumer in that area now has to pay an average £14.23 on top of the standard delivery price, when in 2012 the average surcharge was £12.10. For islanders the average surcharge in 2015 was £14.71 compared to the 2012 figure of £12.70.
CAS is suggesting that retailers should tell consumers what delivery operator will be used before the purchase is made, and consider simplifying their delivery pricing structure.
It said delivery operators should ensure a full range of delivery options - in particular collection from post office, local shop, lockers or another safe places - are made available to the widest possible range of retailers and to their customers.
CAS consumer spokesperson Sarah Beattie- Smith said: ‘The problem of high delivery charges for consumers in rural and remote areas continues to cause hardship for people right across Scotland, impacting higher in the Scottish Highlands and islands more than in other areas of the UK.
‘Our campaign has had some success in persuading individual delivery companies to change their ways. For example today’s report shows that fewer retailers now refuse to deliver to remote areas than was the case in 2012 and fewer add a surcharge.
Online retailers are also more likely to comply with regulations.
‘However, where a surcharge is applied, Highland and island consumers pay even more than they did three years ago, de- spite average delivery charges falling in real terms. So these consumers pay roughly four times the average costs for delivery. Scots in rural areas understand that it costs a little more to deliver to remote areas, but this report shows that surcharges add to a ‘rural premium’ and can have a serious impact on businesses and the rural economy.
‘Today we’re calling for a concerted effort by both governments, working with enterprise bodies and the online retail industry itself. Together we can and must achieve a fairer deal for consumers.’