People in Shetland are furious about being charged “rip-off” delivery prices when they buy things online, according to new research from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
The CAB surveyed people across rural Scotland recently, and found that many companies refuse to deliver to “remote” addresses such as the Northern Isles altogether, or at best charge huge fees for doing so. Many Shetlanders responded to the survey and it has proved so popular that it has been re-opened by popular demand.
Local CAB manager Les Irving is now urging even more Shetland consumers to have their say in the re-opened survey of delivery charges, knowing that the offer of “free delivery” does not stand up to scrutiny.
He said: “This [original survey] has uncovered huge anger about this issue. Some of the examples reported are really shocking. It’s especially insulting to be told that a company will deliver ‘free throughout the UK’ but then find that this excludes us here in Shetland, and half of Scotland.”
The original survey attracted responses from nearly 900 people across northern Scotland, including many from Shetland. This showed that 84 per cent of respondents had been refused delivery outright, or that companies they bought from used expensive couriers which charge high prices for remote deliveries, rather than Royal Mail, which has uniform prices for the whole of the UK regardless of location.
Anecdotal evidence has revealed that islanders have been charged as much as £80 for a delivery normally costing £20, and £55 instead of the normal £5.
Mr Irving said: “The survey has been so popular with shoppers that the campaign is today re-opening it online, to enable more people to report their evidence of this issue. I am urging local people to respond to it now, if they haven’t done so already.
“Our survey has shown that people are fed up with being treated like this, and want something done about it.”
The survey has aroused such interest that people wanted to contribute even after the deadline. Mr Irving said: “People have even been coming up to us in the street and asking us if it’s too late to report a particular instance that happened to them. This is quite unprecedented for a survey like this, but it shows the strength of feeling.
“We will be reporting this evidence to the Office of Fair Trading, and to trading standards, as well as to both the UK and Scottish governments. Citizens Advice Scotland are also writing to the companies named by respondents, to ask them to change their policies in the light of this evidence. We will be naming the companies and publishing more detail of that in the New Year.”
The CAB service is determined to protect consumers against unfairness, he said, and assured local people that this campaign was only just beginning.
He continued: “We are aiming to persuade these companies to change their policies. After all, our survey shows they are losing potential trade, which is cutting into their profits.”
According to the survey, 85 per cent of respondents have warned friends and family against using certain companies because of their excessive charges. Mr Irvine said: “Changing their pricing policies would make sense for them too. It would not only give rural people a fair deal but would increase their own trade.
“The more evidence we get, the better, so we urge everyone to take a few minutes to fill in the survey and let us know their views. This is people power in action.”
The survey is now open again at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/FreeDelivery, or in paper form from the local CAB. It will remain open until midnight on 19th January. All the evidence will go in the next CAB report, to be published in the New Year.