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Excess delivery charges: 40 cases of companies charging extra to deliver to certain postcodes reported to Advertising Standards Authority

Customers have turned to online delivery for Christmas this year.
Customers have turned to online delivery for Christmas this year.

Dozens of enforcement notices have been issued by the Advertising Standards Authority this year to clamp down on rip-off delivery charges to the Highlands.

Research done by the Scottish Parliament has found that residents across the country have paid £43million in surcharges this year.

Issues commonly faced by residents across the north, including in Moray and the islands, is firms advertising free delivering – but then adding excess costs to deliver to some postcodes.

Yesterday the Advertising Standards Authority revealed it had received 40 complaints this year about firms backtracking on free delivery pledges once online customers reveal they are from the north.

Retailer behind £1,000 delivery charge to north and north-east explains fee is ‘deterrent’ to stop customers buying

Eye-watering delivery prices

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead and Moray MP Douglas Ross have both campaigned on the issue amid concerns residents are being ripped off.

One online furniture retailer was found to be quoting £1,000 to deliver items to the north this year – later claiming the eye-watering price was merely a deterrent to stop customers from buying from them.

The SNP has published several examples of firms charging more for the same product when compared to posting them to Elgin.

Mr Lochhead said: “Christmas this year will be tough enough for many families without having unfair delivery charges slapped on them as well, piling up the cost of Christmas.

“This year, more than ever, people have relied on online shopping to keep themselves and their families safe, but they should not be penalised because of where they live.

“I know this has been a difficult year for retailers, but consumers should not be punished as a result and I would urge any businesses who continue to implement these unfair charges to bring them to an end.”

Enforcement action taken

The Advertising Standards Authority has said that in all the cases reported to them, which were pursued, the retailer amended their website to indicate surcharges apply to some postcodes.

No further action was taken against any of the firms.

One resident reported a case to Mr Ross, which involved a Fife-based distiller charging to deliver to Spey Bay, near Fochabers, while offering to send a bottle to Cornwall for free.

He said: “We should not be punished by these firms simply because of where we live and the fact that the surcharge wasn’t mentioned on the company’s website showed they were clearly in breach of the guidelines businesses have to work to.

Moray MP Douglas Ross

“Research by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre found that people in Moray paid an extra £3m in surcharges in the last year.

“It is a huge problem and one that I continue to campaign on.”

Government response

UK Government business minister Paul Scully has said it is “crucial” for retailers to be up-front about delivery charges and how they may apply to certain areas.

The Advertising Standards Authority has pledged to ensure there is a “level playing field” between firms by ensuring advertisements comply with the rules.

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