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Rural residents facing almost £45 million delivery charges told to ‘speak to retailers’

Richard Lochhead has warned of "staggering" delivery charges for rural communities

Rural residents ripped off with “staggering” delivery charges this Christmas should take it up with the delivery companies, according to the UK Government.

New research suggests people living north of the central belt, particularly in the rural north and islands, face paying up to £44.8 million on delivery charges every year.

Royal Mail has a standard price universal coverage obligation through government legislation, but other private companies are allowed to charge what they like.

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead called the situation a “scandalous practice”.

People in his constituency pay as much as £4.4 million in delivery surcharges.

The highest rate is faced by those in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, who face a massive £9 million in surcharges each year.

Postcode lottery

Mr Lochhead said: “These latest examples show just how much that some Scottish households have to pay for the basic ability to shop online during a pandemic.

“The Christmas crunch is undoubtedly felt much more acutely by those forced to fork out when free delivery is routinely advertised.”

MSP Richard Lochhead

The SNP politician added: “This postcode lottery has gone on for far too long – it’s time for the UK government to crack down on this scandalous practice once and for all.

“Over the last year in particular, the pandemic meant many across Scotland chose to do their shopping online – and therefore faced exorbitant delivery charges.

“In my own constituency of Moray, some lorries even drive past homes that pay huge surcharges to get to homes that benefit from free delivery. It’s a farce that is ripping off customers.

“Tory Ministers have so far only paid lip service on this issue. If this was a problem in their own backyards, tough action would have been introduced long before now.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The Royal Mail provides a universal parcel service at a standard price throughout the United Kingdom thanks to legislation the UK government put in place in 2011, and the Consumer Protection Partnership continues to look at delivery issues faced by those in certain regions.

“Ultimately, it is for retailers to decide on how to provide their delivery service to customers and those facing issues should speak to retailers directly.”

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Royal Mail is proud to deliver the ‘one-price-goes-anywhere’ Universal Service that reaches more than 31 million addresses across the UK.

“We recognise its importance to individual customers and small and medium-sized businesses, particularly in rural and remote communities.”

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