Scottish Government
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Fair delivery charges for rural areas

Enterprise Minister writes to retailers.

Businesses should do more to reassure customers in rural and remote parts of Scotland that they will not suffer disproportionate delivery charges, Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing said today.

Mr Ewing and Trisha McAuley, Director for Scotland of watchdog Consumer Futures have written jointly to retailers across the UK. The correspondence follows last year’s launch of the Parcel Delivery Working Group which was established by Consumers Futures and the Scottish Government to set up a code of conduct for the industry.

The letters ask businesses to set out how they will promote the new Statement of Principles and make sure people are not discriminated against for living in rural areas.

The Statement – agreed by industry, government, trading standards and consumer groups - calls on businesses to avoid charging disproportionate delivery costs, provide greater transparency and provide the widest possible delivery coverage.

Mr Ewing said:

“Although the principles are voluntary we believe they will help to support businesses and reduce the number of customers who abandon purchases at the last minute because they find out the cost of delivery.

“It is not acceptable to hear reports of customers in the Highlands and Islands experiencing excessive charges, being refused delivery and being misled by the term ‘free delivery.’

“The Scottish Government, together with Consumer Futures, is committed to ensuring the parcels delivery market in Scotland works in the interests of both consumers and business.

“We would encourage retailers to take on board these guidelines and in turn customers, particularly in the Highlands and Islands, will receive a fairer service and abidance by their adoption of these guidelines online retailers will show respect for their customers.

“By sending out these letters I am reinforcing the message that delivery pricing policies should not discriminate against customers on the basis of their location.”

Trisha McAuley, Director for Scotland at Consumer Futures said:

“21st century delivery services for our online purchases would be a win-win for consumers, businesses and the economy. It is unacceptable that people in rural areas are often faced with no delivery service being available, or excessive delivery charges to get their goods and that there is a general lack of transparency in delivery charges.

“The new principles are a good example of different sectors working together to identify best practice in delivery services. Many of the problems consumers face could be avoided if retailers adopt the principles in their business practices.

“Consumers in Scotland should be able to take heart that there are industry agreed principles out there, but retailers now need to demonstrate their commitment to customers and say how they plan to roll-out improvements in delivery services.”

Notes to editors

The statement of principles is available to view online at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Business-Industry/Parcel%20DeliveryinRemoteandRuralAreas

The Parcel Delivery Working Group which held its first meeting in July, was developed by the Scottish Government and consumer watchdog Consumer Futures.

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