People in the Hebrides - along with other islands and the Northern Highlands - face massive delivery charges for items. 

Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, has hit out during a debate in the Scottish Parliament at the unjustifiable delivery charges islanders face.

Alasdair Allan pointed out to Parliament on Wednesday that many islanders often have little option other than to rely on online shopping.

The power to regulate parcel delivery surcharging is reserved to the UK Government. However, despite these limits on its own powers, the Scottish Government last year launched its own “Fairer parcel deliveries: action plan”.

Alasdair Allan said:“Islanders rely on being able to purchase items online that we cannot easily pick up locally. However, the Western Isles continues to be one of the worst places affected by retailers setting arbitrary and unjustifiable delivery surcharges. Island consumers have this year paid an extra £1.5 million in delivery charges.

“More has to be done to stop islanders being ripped off. While the Scottish Government’s recent action plan was a welcome step forward in the campaign against unfair delivery charges, ultimately the powers in this area are reserved to the UK Government and they must step up to ensure that companies stop discriminating against island customers.  A step forward would be for them to ensure these companies use the Royal Mail for sending out smaller items, something many such companies simply refuse to do.”

A new service, meanwhile, has been launched in partnership with the Scottish Government and Trading Standards which aims to track unfair delivery charges in rural areas.

It asks consumers to fill out an online form and relevant information will be passed on to the appropriate authorities for investigation.

Lorna Yelland, team leader with consumeradvice.scot, said: “The new online tool will collect vital intelligence relating to unfair delivery charges, and by answering a few simple questions consumers can help us turn the tide against this unfair practice.”

Conservative Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has urged progress in tackling exorbitant delivery charges in the face of rising surcharges in rural areas.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, during a debate on unfair delivery charges, Mr Cameron highlighted the experience of businesses in island communities, who were continuing to suffer from high charges.

Speaking after the debate, Mr Cameron said: “Unfair charging for deliveries always strikes home as we approach Christmas.  But we have to remember that our business community in the Highlands and Islands has to cope with this all year round.  It places local businesses at a competitive disadvantage and is hindering our attempts at growing the economy and creating job opportunities.

“We need to see real progress and intensify the pressure on those suppliers who continue to charge exorbitant rates for deliveries here.”

 The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has provided the following estimates of delivery surcharges across Scotland:

 

Total annual cost to adult population impacted by delivery surcharges

Inverness and Nairn

£7,239,000

Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch

£6,272,000

Caithness, Sutherland and Ross

£4,843,000

Argyll and Bute

£3,109,000

Moray

£2,786,000

Aberdeenshire East

£2,448,000

Aberdeenshire West

£2,180,000

Banffshire and Buchan Coast

£2,035,000

Na h-Eileanan an Iar

£1,518,000

Perthshire North

£1,282,000

Shetland Islands

£1,271,000

Orkney Islands

£1,021,000

Perthshire South and Kinross-shire

£954,000

Dumfriesshire

£927,000

Galloway and West Dumfries

£758,000

Dumbarton

£684,000

Stirling

£365,000

Cunninghame North

£331,000

Clackmannanshire and Dunblane

£93,000

Aberdeen South and North Kincardine

£23,000

 

 

Total cost to Scotland

£40,139,000

 This report has been updated with additional comments since first being posted