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Rip-off charges treat Moray as 'second-class'


By Lorna Thompson


MORAY politicians have called for action and expressed frustration over the long-running issue of rip-off delivery charges after the UK Government ruled out legislation.

Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility Kelly Tolhurst MP confirmed no legislation would be introduced to end unfair parcel delivery surcharges in a Westminster debate yesterday.

Moray's SNP MSP Richard Lochhead – who said he was inundated with delivery charge cases – hit out yesterday after a constituent from Glenlivet faced a delivery charge of £37.99 for a £5.99 plant.

And Moray Conservative MP Douglas Ross told MPs it was "absolutely incredible that in 2019, in this day and age, couriers and companies still say that Moray and the Highlands are not part of mainland United Kingdom".

Highland Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone, who secured the debate, said: "If we fail to tackle this issue – which makes my constituents and many others living in remote parts of Scotland and elsewhere in the UK slightly second-class citizens – we will be failing them."

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Mr Ross said: "I’ve had numerous cases where constituents have told me that they ordered goods online at the agreed price, but then go into the delivery options and are charged extra because of their postcode.

"I even had one customer from Fochabers who was going to be charged more but when he put in a Clochan address, which has an AB postcode, even though it was a few miles further to deliver, delivery was free. This is all the more galling as the courier in question was based in Inverness so they had to pass Fochabers, where they wanted to charge for delivery, to get to Clochan when they delivered for free.

"This is something I have raised repeatedly during my two years as MP for Moray. We are beginning to see some progress with the Advertising Standards Authority issuing enforcement notices to companies who advertise free UK mainland delivery but then charge extra for Moray. But more still needs to be done. This is a practice that must end."

Mr Lochhead has highlighted that people should use consumeradvice.scot, launched a couple of months ago, which offers free advice on delivery law, urges shoppers to report misleading practices, and tells companies what would be best practice.

Yesterday Mr Lochhead said he had written to Jackson’s Nurseries, in Staffordshire, after a constituent from Glenlivet went to buy a plant costing £5.99 – and then faced a £37.99 delivery charge.

Mr Lochhead again called on the UK Government to take urgent action.

He said: "Although some companies have changed their policies, I continue to be inundated with cases where consumers in Moray are charged more for delivery than elsewhere in the UK – but a £37.99 delivery charge for a £5.99 plant is yet another case that beggars belief.

"This is just the latest example of consumers in Moray having to put up with extortionate parcel delivery charges and, with the rise in online shopping, it is frankly high time that the Conservative government acted to curb this daylight robbery."



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