Scotland’s new consumer service has joined forces with Highland Council Trading Standards to challenge unfair and hidden delivery charges.
The new consumeradvice.scot service, launched in April, is now providing free advice to consumers on delivery law and encouraging shoppers to report misleading advertising and sales tactics.
Consumers in Scotland’s remote and rural areas often discover hidden delivery charges added after purchase, or small-print delivery information that can be missed at the point of purchase.
According to the Office for National Statistics, rural areas accounted for one-in-six online purchases in the UK in 2017. However, people residing in these areas pay an average of approximately 30 per cent more for delivery than those elsewhere in the UK.
consumeradvice.scot is working with Highland Council Trading Standards to challenge these hidden and unfair charges, with the support of the Scottish Government.
Consumers can receive free advice and report incidents by contacting the new service, and consumeradvice.scot is then able to pass on incidents to Trading Standards for investigation.
consumeradvice.scot has received Scottish Government funding and provides advice to people on a range of issues, including buying products both online and in shops, changing mobile phone and internet providers, and dealing with rogue tradespeople.
To make the service more accessible, support can be accessed online through web chat, email or social media, as well as by calling a freephone number 0808 164 6000.
The Service is being run by the Glasgow and Stornoway-based charity Advice Direct Scotland.
Chris Cowles, adviser with consumeradvice.scot in Stornoway, said:
“As someone who lives on Lewis, I know that too many people living in remote and rural areas find online bargains have hidden charges or small-print delivery information that can be missed at the point of purchase.
“Changes to operational and organisational structures to address this problem will take time and considerable capital investment, but one immediate way forward is using consumer rights legislation to challenge misleading advertising and sales tactics.
“The new consumeradvice.scot service provides free, impartial and practical advice on shoppers’ rights and how to challenge these additional costs, and we encourage consumers to report instances to us where they believe they have been unfairly treated.”
Scottish Government Business Minister Jamie Hepburn said:
“I fully understand the frustration unfair delivery charges can cause. That’s why I launched the “Fairer Deliveries for All” action plan, which sets out practical steps the Scottish Government will take to tackle the issue – even though we do not have the powers to regulate in this area.
“consumeradvice.scot is funded by the Scottish Government to support consumers on a wide range of issues. It has been a valuable supporter of our work on parcel deliveries and I am glad to see it building partnerships with other organisations to ensure as many consumers as possible can get help when they need it.”
David MacKenzie, Trading Standards Manager with Highland Council Trading Standards Service, said:
“We have been fighting for fair delivery charges for rural Scots for several years now and are firm supporters of the Scottish Government’s Fairer Deliveries For All strategy. The new Scottish advice service has a key role in advising consumers of their rights when buying online and passing cases to Trading Standards to investigate. This complements the role of the UK-wide website www.deliverylaw.uk which provides a one-stop shop for consumers, businesses and practitioners on delivery law and is operated by the team at Highland Council Trading Standards.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Consumers can seek help in a number of different ways.
Freephone: 0808 164 6000
Online and web chat: www.consumeradvice.scot
Consumeradvice.scot is operated by the charity Advice Direct Scotland and works in close partnership with Trading Standards staff in local authorities to improve the services that consumers receive.
Consumer advisors can:
• Provide practical and impartial advice on how to resolve your consumer problem
• Inform you of the consumer laws which may apply to your situation
• Provide template letters which consumers can use to contact the trader or service provider they are having issues with
• Pass relevant information onto Trading Standards for further investigation
• Make a complaint on an individual’s behalf
• Carry out any legal action on an individual’s behalf