Published: 03/01/2018 07:00 - Updated: 28/12/2017 10:43

Petition calls for a halt to unfair delivery charges

 

Drew Hendry petition
Drew Hendry has launched a petition against 'profiteering' delivery companies.

A PETITION has been launched to protect people in the Highlands from shops and shipping companies who are "profiteering" by charging extortionate delivery fees.

North MP Drew Hendry is urging everyone to get behind his campaign for people living in the Highlands, who often miss out on free delivery and other offers simply because of where they live.

Some companies claim they offer free delivery but exclude the Highlands and islands in the small print, even if the delivery is to an urban area like Inverness.

Others refuse to deliver to the Highlands altogether, citing travel difficulties or high costs.

Now the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey MP is calling for an end to the eye-watering charges, which are often only applied in the north, as well as stopping  misleading advertisements for "free delivery" which rule out the north of Scotland.

Reports from consumers have cited surcharges of around £75 and say they have been charged four times more to deliver to the Highlands than elsewhere in the UK, often costing more than the product itself.

Mr Hendry said: "This has been a long-running concern and more needs to be done to protect folk in the Highlands and Islands from excessive delivery charges when ordering goods online.

"I asked the UK government to hold a debate on the issue in parliament and I have followed this up with a letter to the minister [for business, energy and industrial strategy] to discuss the issue further as it’s very simple - consumers, regardless of where they live should also have the right to the lowest possible delivery cost and the UK Government really do need to take action on this."

Westminster recently announced a review into delivery surchages, to be carried out by the Consumer Protection Partnership, using evidence by regulatory body Ofcom.

But Mr Hendry, the SNP spokesman for business, energy and industrial strategy, said "warm words" do not go far enough.

"Last year I produced a 10-minute rule bill in parliament outlining how the government could amend legislation to end unfair delivery charges and I am glad that, after raising many subsequent questions on the issue, there finally seems to be some willingness from the minister to review the situation," he said.

"That said, I have heard these warm words before so if there is a genuine commitment from the minister to improve the situation, then definitive action needs to be taken now.

"We should all want to ensure that the Highlands and islands are not disadvantaged because of legislative loopholes or lack of enforcement and it is in that spirit of cooperation that I have also raised a parliamentary motion asking MPs to back my calls to put an end to rip off charges once and for all.

"With a light shone on this issue, it is more important than ever before that we keep the pressure up on the UK Government and that is why I urge everyone to add their signature to our petition."

A UK government spokesman confirmed the reivew.

He said: "The Royal Mail provides a universal service at a uniform price throughout the United Kingdom, but we are aware of commercial issues that play outside this service thanks to research from Ofcom.

"The Consumer Protection Partnership has commenced a review of the evidence to date to see what more can be done to protect remote communities from any unfair postal charges.

The petition is available online at: https://www.change.org/p/uk-government-end-unfair-delivery-charges

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