Government rejects rip-off parcel charge legislation

Government Ministers have rejected calls for legislation to end rip-off parcel delivery surcharges that hit households and businesses in Forres and across the north of Scotland.

MSP for Moray Richard Lochhead met with the UK Government Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, Kelly Tolhurst MP, in November to discuss his campaign against unfair delivery charges. Following those talks, the minister has now written to Mr Lochhead to confirm that the UK Government doesn’t believe legislation is required.

Consumers pay additional £38m

Mr Lochhead, who has led the campaign against unfair parcel delivery charges, has responded with dismay at the UK Government’s continued refusal to legislate against these unfair practices, which cost Scottish consumers an additional £38.1m last year compared to the rest of the UK.  

His campaign has received cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament, and has been backed by online retailers such as eBay. The Advertising Standards Authority has also investigated dossiers with more than 200 companies referred by Mr Lochhead.

Mr Lochhead said: “I’m disappointed that following a constructive meeting the UK Government Minister has concluded that legislation isn’t needed to tackle rip off parcel delivery surcharges, despite assurances at the time that she understood the issue required action.

Government ‘refuse to act’

“In her letter she points to the work of the Consumer Protection Partnership and its work with partners to look at how these rip-off surcharges might be addressed. Whilst I, of course, welcome the work they’re doing to gather information from parcel operators and retailers, the reality is that consumers and small businesses in Moray want to see more immediate action to end these unfair practices. The UK Government has the power to act but they refuse to do so. 

“I explained when we met that the voluntary statement of principles promoted by Scottish and UK Ministers are not being adhered to by far too many online retailers, and if we’re to bring an end to discrimination then we need the UK Government to look at legislation.

“Scots consumers forked out £38m on delivery surcharge last year due to the unacceptable practices of many online retailers and their couriers – that alone should be enough to convince the UK Government to act.

“Despite this disappointing response from the UK Government my campaign will to end these rip off surcharges, which has gone from strength to strength, will continue.”

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