Liberal Democrat MP, Jamie Stone, is today leading a debate in the House of Commons about delivery charges in the Highlands and Islands. He is calling on the UK and Scottish Government to stop ‘playing blame games’ and act to end unfair delivery charges.
Postcodes in the Highlands and Islands face 21% higher postal charges on average compared to South Western Scotland and are 31% less likely to have access to home delivery services from online retailers compared to Eastern Scotland.
The average price for a large parcel in the Highlands and Islands is £60.25. By contrast, the average price in South Western Scotland is £48.57. The Highlands and Islands also have an ‘average delivery availability probability’ of 85% for standard door to door deliveries, compared with averages of at least 99% in the rest of Scotland.
According to Revolver – the UK’s biggest free complaint’s website and partner of the Scottish Government’s fairdeliveries website – delivery services was the second most complained about issue between April 2020 to March 2021, registering 91,906 complaints.
Leading a Westminster Hall Debate on delivery charges today, Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross – Jamie Stone – will propose four solutions to tackle unfair delivery charges in the Highlands and Islands. These are:
- Extending the Royal Mail’s “one price goes anywhere” rule to other companies and increasing regulation in the delivery service industry
- Do more to support local couriers
- Reduce driving times – and therefore costs – by properly investing in road infrastructure
- Increase the penalties for companies who do not comply with the guidelines laid out by the Advertising Standards Authority
Mr Stone plans to urge the UK and Scottish Government to work more closely together on the issue, rather than get side tracked by “blame games” and “constitutional arguments every fine minutes”.
Speaking ahead of the vote, Mr Stone said:
“Highlanders pay the most absurd delivery surcharge prices – and often, they only find out till after they have made their purchase thanks to some of the dodgy advertising compliance we see by online retailers in particular.
“We know it’s bad. I know it from my chats with constituents, and both the UK and Scottish Government know it from their own data – and data produced by independent third parties. Parties from across the political spectrum know it’s a problem and yet here we are: in the same boat.
"Today I want to drive home the message that there a few practical steps that can be taken to end postcode penalties in the Highlands and Islands. It’s obvious we need more regulation in the industry and penalties for companies who continue not to comply with the Advertising Standards Authority need to include more than just a strongly worded letter. We need both Governments to step up, to work together and to work with courier companies themselves. We deserve better in the Highlands and we’re sick of being punished for our postcode.”
Martyn James from Resolver added:
“The package delivery sector has seen a huge surge in demand in the past few years – something that’s only been exacerbated by the pandemic and online ordering. However, the industry is woefully unregulated and notoriously bad when it comes to customer service.
“Many of the businesses have little to no direct communications methods when things go wrong (one only has an automated chatbot), which leaves countless consumers at a loss when their parcels go missing or are damaged.
“In addition, package ‘cover’ is sold alongside the delivery but exclusion lists mean huge numbers of things cannot be sent through the post despite the firms taking money for doing so. One firm has over 170 exclusions. The only option for unhappy consumers is to take the firms to court if they aren’t able to resolve their complaints.”
“Resolver is the UK's biggest free complaints website, allowing anyone to make a complaint or sort out a dispute with over 150 different products and sectors from around the UK. We helped 900,000 people last year and we believe that the year ahead, with all it's challenges, will be even busier. Our role is to help businesses, organisations and the people that use them find quick and effective solutions to problems without the need for escalation or the courts.”