The cost of sending parcels is set to become more transparent with measures to track delivery prices across Scotland.
Plans to allow people to see whether they are paying over the odds for sending parcels in rural and remote areas have been unveiled by the Scottish Government.
Launching on Scotland’s first ever Fair Delivery Day to coincide with Cyber Monday, the plan has eight areas aiming to help rural communities and businesses understand their rights about parcel deliveries.
An online map enabling people to track and compare price differences between different areas is due to be created by summer 2019, as well as an online hub for customers to comment on pricing and their experiences.
Efforts to improve the accuracy of postcode classification tools, stopping accessible locations being mistakenly categorised as rural or remote, will also happen by the end of 2019.
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.
“We have long called for an end to unfair delivery charges. This action plan reinforces our commitment to ensure the delivery market works for people across Scotland irrespective of where they live.
“It 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.”
Highland Council leader, Councillor Margaret Davidson, said: “Online shopping is of particular importance to remote and rural areas like the Highlands.
“Consumers and small businesses have reaped many benefits from the opportunities the internet has brought but the issue of unfair delivery surcharges has been the major bone of contention.
“To get lasting change we need a national approach which is why we are delighted the Minister is with us today to launch this excellent initiative to promote the campaign for fair delivery charges and help bring about the change we need.”
Charges for parcel delivery for Highlands and Islands addresses are more than 30% higher on average than for other areas of mainland Great Britain, according to research carried out by the Consumer Futures Unit.
Welcoming the proposals chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, Derek Mitchell, added: “We are delighted to be supporting Fair Delivery Day.
“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.”