This year Orcadians paid an extra £1,021,000 in unfair delivery charges

The issue of unfair delivery charges which we are all too familiar with in the Northern Isles was debated in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 4th of December.

Scottish Parliament

Photo Scot Gov

The motion was brought to the MSPs by Gail Ross SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross which also suffers from unfair delivery charges. The issue had been debated 2 years before in Scotland’s Parliament by Richard Lochead SNP MSP for Moray who has campaigned ceaselessly on the extra charges levied by some carriers in delivering to the Highlands and Islands.

Gail Ross said:

” A recent report shows that the cost to people in Scotland of additional delivery charges is now £40 million—it has gone up 11% since we previously debated the issue.”

Shopping local is really important but sometimes it is not possible to find what you want in the Orkney shops and so you go online. This is the reality of island living.

In the debate Gail Ross reeled off some of the appalling rip off charges that members of the public had informed her of:

  •  A sofa that cost £299, with a delivery charge of £600 to postcode IV25, was not delivered, with the reason given being a failure to find a courier.
  • A box of gifts weighing 5kg delivered to postcode KW1, but the delivery charge was £11.30 going north and only £4.80 going south, with no reason given.
  • Free delivery was advertised for orders over £29 but, when someone placed an order for delivery to postcode IV2, the postage on the final payment screen was £11.98, with the reason given that the person lived in Scotland.
  • The delivery charge to postcode DD9 for a futon costing £269 was £189, with the reason given that the person lived outside mainland England.
  • It cost £78 to deliver bathroom furniture to Alness, but it was free to deliver it to North Ayrshire.
  • Someone paid for a cooker and was then reimbursed because there was no shipping to the Highlands and Islands, despite there having been no notification of that when the person bought it.

Orkney constituency MSP Liam McArthur, LibDem, has also been contacted by members of the public who have had these unfair delivery charges quoted to them.

Liam McArthur said:

“These figures are a stark reminder that islanders continue to be unfairly penalised by delivery surcharges.

“I regularly hear from constituents and local businesses who face taking a financial hit simply because of where they live and work.  In some cases, the additional fees charged amount to more than the value of product they have bought.

“The Scottish Government has acknowledged the problem and committed to take action, which is welcome news for rural and island communities.  However, we now need detail and a clear timescale for that action. I have therefore written to the Minister for Business seeking answers to those questions and reinforcing the need for collaborative action between the Scottish and UK government.

“I remain determined to ensure there is greater fairness and transparency when it comes to delivery charges Meantime, I would encourage anyone affected by unfair surcharges to contact my office”

Unfair delivery charges

The above diagram illustrates how much extra these unfair charges are costing consumers in the Highlands and Islands every year.

Orcadians are paying an extra £1,021,000 for goods bought online for delivery.

Click on this link for a spreadsheet of the surcharges: Surcharge data

The Royal Mail has a universal system of charges.This means that if you send a parcel anywhere in the UK by Royal Mail the amount you pay will be the same. With the massive growth in online sales there has been a  surge in delivery options by couriers other than the Royal Mail and those are where the extra charges are imposed.

The problem for Scotland is not our geography or our fondness for online shopping. The problem for Scotland is that regulation of mail services is a power retained by the UK Parliament.

Although the Scottish Government has no power over delivery charges it has produced an action plan.

Click on the link to access: Fairer parcel deliveries: action plan

It has 8 action points which are  advice sources for consumers – so you would know up front if you were being charged extra. The Scottish Government does not have the power to get rid of the delivery tax which so many in Scotland are being forced to pay.

You can watch the whole debate here

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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