Shetland’s MP has slammed the “raw deal” on delivery charges faced by isles consumers.
Alistair Carmichael has spoken after news Scottish consumers are paying £44.8 million more than other parts of the UK.
That is according to a briefing from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice), which says the north and north-east are most affected.
Now, Mr Carmichael has reiterated a call for tax incentives for companies to provide a universal service charge, similar to the Royal Mail.
Advice Direct Scotland, which runs Scotland’s national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot, has an online form for people to report unfair delivery charges, with information passed on to the relevant authorities for further investigation.
Marjorie Gibson, head of operations with Advice Direct Scotland, said: “This highlights the unfair treatment faced by many Scots living in remote and rural areas.
“We encourage Scots to report instances to us where they believe they have been unfairly treated, and we can collate and pass on the information.
“Too many people living in remote and rural areas find online bargains have hidden charges or small-print delivery information that can be missed when making a purchase.”
Mr Carmichael said: “The latest figures restate what islanders have known for a long time – that we are getting a raw deal on delivery charges. Too often people are finding that the delivery costs more than the product. It is a tax on island life and it has to change.
“The Government has a role to play in protecting people from delivery price gouging. It can do so through tax incentives to provide a universal service obligation – as the Royal Mail does – but this requires some political will from those at the top.
“If we leave delivery costs to the market alone then it is people in rural and island communities who will keep losing out, as these figures demonstrate. We have to take some responsibility to make a change or these problems will just keep getting worse.”