People in rural parts of Scotland who choose to do their Christmas shopping online will pay more than £11 million “over the odds” in delivery fees.
The Scottish Parliament Information Centre has conducted research into the fees at the behest of Moray MSP, Richard Lochhead, who is leading a campaign to ensure that delivery charges paid by customers across the north and north-east are not subject to unfair inflation.
The research group found that the extra charges imposed in Scotland over the Christmas period, described as from October to December, will come to a staggering total of £11.4 million more than in the rest of the UK.
Mr Lochhead said the sum indicated that some traders viewed the festive period as the season of “fleecing”.
He said: “It is absolutely astonishing that online shoppers in Scotland still face an £11.4 million penalty in the form of parcel delivery surcharges this Christmas, compared to the rest of the UK, simply because of where they live.
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“As far as some retailers are concerned, Christmas is not about giving but about fleecing.”
The SNP politician said the findings proved how important his Fair Delivery Charges crusade is, and reinforced the need for action to be taken.
He added: “These charges are applied without any justification to mainly northern postcodes.
“Rural Scotland is home to some of the most loyal online shoppers and in the run up to Christmas I will continue campaigning and piling the pressure on retailers to end rip-off surcharges.
“It is now time for the authorities to act and for every retailer to review its delivery charges and to stop discriminating against many parts of Scotland.”
Since the campaign was launched, some progress has already been made, with the Advertising Standards Authority issuing enforcement notices to more than 200 companies reported to them by the MSP.
And last month, the the Scottish Government launched a Fairer Deliveries for All action plan which intends to find solutions to the problem.
Recent examples include a firm quoting £30 to deliver a car rear guard to Moray – despite its website advertising £9.60 for postage to the Highlands and islands.
Meanwhile, a resident in Brechin was asked to pay £59.94 to have a radiator delivered although the firm promoted the cost for “mainland UK delivery” at £20 less.
Courier service TNT Direct charges an additional £50 for next-day delivery to the Highlands, compared to anywhere else in the UK.