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Plan unfurled to help people tackle unfair deliveries

RURAL customers will be able to see whether they are paying over the odds for parcel delivery, and avoid traders profiting through unfair means, once new measures announced on Monday are implemented.

The Scottish Government’s Fairer Deliveries For All plan is intended to make the market more transparent and is centred around the use of a website where customers can share experiences and get an idea of what charges should be in their area.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott welcomed the news and said that government ministers also had a role to play in tackling the “exorbitant” delivery charges the islands are facing.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott.Tavish Scott wants ministers to tackle the issue head on.

He said: “Any activity that helps people to make a comparison [on deliveries] is useful and I think government ministers can use their influence and ought to speak directly to commercial businesses and press on them the need to reduce delivery charges and in many case eliminate them.”

Launched on Scotland’s first ever Fair Delivery Day, which coincided with the so-called Cyber Monday (26 November), the plan has eight actions to help rural communities and businesses understand their rights when it comes to parcel delivery, including:

A crowdsourcing website where customer experiences of unfair deliveries can be shared.

Developing a fair delivery charges map where consumers will be able to compare and track delivery costs.

Improving the accuracy of postcode classification tools by the end of 2019, to stop accessible locations being mistakenly categorised as rural or remote.

The action plan follows on from a roundtable event held by the Scottish Government in June which was attended by parcel delivery companies, businesses, consumer groups and regulatory bodies.

Scottish business minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Unfair delivery practices are not only frustrating and discriminatory for consumers, they are a barrier to small businesses operating in rural and remote areas.

“This action plan…will empower online shoppers to recognise and act upon unfair or misleading delivery costs.

“We will also continue to call on the UK Government to take action as only they have the power to regulate parcel deliveries.”

The scheme was also praised by Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Derek Mitchell, who said: “Citizens Advice Bureaux from across our network along with our partners, including Trading Standards have been raising issues around parcel delivery charges for a number of years and they have played a vital role in lobbying for positive change for people affected by unfair surcharging, most often in rural communities.”