BUSINESSES should do more to reassure customers in remote parts of Scotland they will not suffer excessive delivery charges, the enterprise minister has said.
Fergus Ewing has written to UK retailers asking them how they intend to promote new guidelines that state consumers living in rural areas should not be discriminated against.
The code was developed by the Parcel Delivery Working Group, established last year by the watchdog Consumer Futures and the Scottish Government.
Agreed by industry, trading standards and consumer groups, it urges businesses to avoid charging disproportionate delivery costs and provide the widest possible delivery coverage.
Mr Ewing said: “Although the principles are voluntary 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.
“By sending out these letters I am reinforcing the message that delivery pricing policies should not discriminate against customers on the basis of their location.”
Trisha McAuley, Scottish director at Consumer Futures, said: “The new principles are a good example of different sectors working together to identify best practice in delivery services. Many of the problems consumers face could be avoided if retailers adopt the principles in their business practices.
“Consumers in Scotland should be able to take heart that there are industry agreed principles out there, but retailers now need to demonstrate their commitment to customers and say how they plan to roll-out improvements in delivery services.”