Mike Rumbles MSP calls on Ofcom to investigate unfair delivery charges

The Scottish Lib Dem rural affairs spokesman, Mike Rumbles MSP, has written to Ofcom to ask for a full investigation into what he terms ‘unfair delivery charges’ that some customers in rural Scotland have to pay for parcel delivery.

This is an old issue and something that the Scottish Citizens Advice Service has published a number of reports about.

In a statement Rumbles commented: “No one should expect a poorer standard of delivery service simply because of where they live. However, all too often retailers are getting away with charging discriminatory delivery charges to rural and islands residents or, perhaps worse, excluding these households from delivery options.

“Liberal Democrats used their time in government at a UK level to put in place a code of practice for parcel deliveries aimed at avoiding discrimination against consumers on the basis of location. Despite that success, however, when challenging companies to review or change their delivery practices I have found they are often unaware or ignore this code of practice.”

In his letter to Glenn Preston, Director of Scotland Ofcom, Rumbles has requested that the regulator “set up a full investigation into delivery charges and practices among retailers and carriers”.

The text of Rumbles’ letter to Ofcom reads:

“Dear Mr Preston,

I am writing to make representation on behalf of my constituents and the many people across Scotland and the UK who face unfairness in the way delivery services are provided, not least on the basis of location.

No one should expect a poorer standard of delivery service simply because of where they live. However, as an MSP, I am aware that all too often retailers are getting away with charging discriminatory delivery charges to rural and islands residents or, perhaps worse, excluding these households from delivery options. Citizens Advice Service in Scotland charted progress on parcel deliveries in Scotland between 2012-2015 and uncovered that a million consumers in rural Scotland were still being hit by unfair delivery charges at the end of that period.

As you will know, Liberal Democrats used their time in government at a UK level to put in place a code of practice for parcel deliveries aimed at avoiding discrimination against consumers on the basis of location. Despite that success, however, when challenging companies to review or change their delivery practices I have found they are often unaware or simply ignore this code of practice.

I note that Ofcom has been monitoring the practices of retailers and carriers who, unlike the Royal Mail, fail to deliver to every address in the UK at a standard price. Your current annual plan states that work will continue in 2017/18 to better understand the causes and effects of surcharging in the Highlands and Islands.

I am therefore writing to you to request that Ofcom goes one step further. I am writing to urge you to set up a full investigation into delivery charges and practices among retailers and carriers. I believe many people could benefit from an Ofcom report examining what regulations or charges controls may facilitate an end to what many rural and island residents see as an unfair practice.

I hope that you will consider this and I look forward to your response.

Yours Sincerely,

Mike Rumbles MSP”

 
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