MSPs yesterday (Wednesday December 6th) protested against unfair parcel delivery charges for areas like the Western Isles.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan called for an end to the unfair parcel delivery charges facing online shoppers in the Western Isles, intervening in a debate in the Scottish Parliament about this issue.

New research from Citizens Advice Scotland has shown that online shoppers in the islands of Scotland can be expected to pay a ‘postcode penalty’ of around 50% more than the rest of the UK, purely because of where they live.

Alasdair Allan MSP said:“In the years that I have been MSP for the Western Isles I have repeatedly raised cases of unfair and discriminatory surcharges from online retailers.

“Recent examples include someone being quoted a £61 additional charge to transport a roof rack to Harris, £34 to deliver a pair of boxers to Lewis and £10 to deliver a small battery, while it was free postage for any other part of the UK.

“Many surcharges seem completely arbitrary and OFCOM research has shown there’s very little explanation for how retailers calculate surcharges. Some even make extra charges for “anyone north of Glasgow”, despite the fact that most smaller items cost the same to post to Berneray as they do to Birmingham.

 “I am glad that Richard Lochhead MSP has brought this issue to the Scottish Parliament so that we can highlight the problem and stop retailers getting away with charging wildly different delivery fees simply because they can.

 “Hopefully the campaign will force retailers to stop this discrimination and adopt set standards for deliveries to each and every corner of the UK.”

Those attacking the charges over recent months include Moray MP Douglas Ross, and Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron.

Commenting ahead of Wednesday’s debate, Donald Cameron MSP said: “People in the Highlands and Islands (and indeed other rural areas) should not be subject to exceedingly high surcharges based on where they live. This is fundamentally unjust and we should be doing all we can to protect those living in rural areas from these absurdly high surcharges.

“We need to dismantle barriers to communities in rural areas and reduce disadvantages to living in remote regions of Scotland, especially on the islands.

“In an increasingly digital world in which online purchases are becoming more commonplace, it is inexcusable that some parts of our country fall behind and are discriminated against due to their geographical location.

“Exorbitant surcharges are unacceptable in any circumstance and it is worse for those living in more remote areas. Many of these areas rely heavily on imported goods and we cannot expect our citizens to pay ridiculous surcharges for products they cannot find in their local stores.

“Moreover, with increased seasonal Christmas deals online, they are only exploited further; not able to order gifts for their loved ones without paying crippling postage penalties.”