Rural Scottish Postcodes Delivery Rip Off:

1-May-2012 SimplyPostcode™

A CAS survey completed last year of 900 consumers found that people living in the rural and remote areas of Scotland were being ripped off over delivery charges when buying goods online.

Since this survey, the Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has received hundreds of more complaints from Scots who are angry about unfair rural delivery charges based on their postcodes.

Sarah Beattie-Smith from CAS said: "This response is really astonishing, and reveals an extraordinary level of anger about this issue. We had thought the 900 responses we received was a massive response. To get over half that again in just a few hours is amazing.”

"We obviously haven't evaluated the new data yet, but the scale of the response shows that this is a campaign that has really caught the imagination of people in rural Scotland, and that the problem is a lot more widespread than people perhaps realised."

The survey identified 300 different retailers who were charging high delivery prices or refusing to delivery at all. CAS said sellers should ensure charges were based on actual costs incurred. Customers are frustrated with companies and couriers who appeared to charge extra based on a postcode area rather than the actual cost of delivery.

In addition to high delivery charges, 84% said they have been refused delivery because of their location. Consumers in Orkney fared the worst, with 93% saying they had been refused delivery, followed closely by online shoppers in the Western Isles (91%) and Highland residents (79%) who were also refused delivery.

CAS have the following recommendations to retailers:-

  • Retailers should clearly display delivery costs on their websites before point of sale.
  • Retailers should reform their delivery policies to ensure charges are kept to a minimum and based on actual costs incurred.
  • Retailers should offer delivery via Royal Mail wherever possible.
  • Regulator Ofcom should maintain the Royal Mail's Universal Service Obligation in order to protect rural and remote consumers from high costs for delivery.
  • The Office of Fair Trading, Trading Standards, business groups and consumer advocates should act jointly to help businesses meet their obligations.

CAS will report its findings to the Office of Fair Trading and trading standards officials, as well as to both the UK and Scottish governments. It will also be writing to companies named by respondents, to ask them to change their policies.