Delivery fees in rural Scotland were last night described as a tax costing millions a year as MSP debated “rip-off surcharges” paid by consumers ordering items over the internet.
Richard Lochhead, SNP MSP for Moray, condemned the “jaw dropping and completely unjustifiable” sums charged for delivery by some retailers. Mr Lochhead has launched a campaign against “rip off” delivery charges that sees those living in certain rural post codes charged large sums. In a member’s debate called by Mr Lochhead, MSPs from across the parties criticised the practice.
Mr Lochhead’s motion highlighted a number of cases including Lloyds Pharmacy charging £50 for delivery of a mobility scooter to a terminally ill woman in Keith.
Addressing MSPs, Mr Lochhead said: “Many retailers deliver free or at low cost in the UK but impose hefty surcharges to much of Scotland. A delivery fee of £50 was demanded for dispatching a £5.99 pair of hand towels to a Speyside constituent of mine. A £60 surcharge was levied for sending a small £8.99 item to Fochabers – a nozzle for a washer. And another Fochabers constituent purchased spare car parts from Germany with free delivery rather than pay up to £45 for delivery from the UK.”
Mr Lochhead said what had begun as a campaign on behalf of his Moray constituents had spread across the country.
“I am told a pair of boxer shorts – not ones I would wear personally – sold by Lincolnshire-based IFL store costing £19.91 can be delivered to Barra for an extra £33.94. But it is only an extra £19.15 to get it to Bulgaria, according to their website. So I think we can agree that example is completely bonkers,” Mr Lochhead said.
“Disgracefully, sometimes consumers are not told about the surcharges until after they have completed their purchases. A lady near Inverurie bought an exercise bike at £155 plus £15.99 for delivery which she thought was reasonable. The next day the company informed her there would be an additional £34 surcharge due to her AB (Aberdeen) postcode.”
He also criticised the “blunt use” of postcodes to determine delivery charges. With customers facing tight household budgets as they wait for Christmas deliveries, he hoped December 2017 would see Scots say “enough is enough” on excessive delivery surcharges.