The MSP for Moray, a rural part of North East Scotland, has contacted the boss of Lloyds Pharmacy in protest of delivery charges for heavy items like mobility scooters to rural areas such as the Scottish Highlands.
MSP Richard Lochhead wrote to Cormac Tobin, managing director of Lloyds Pharmacy, which owns the mobility retailer Betterlife Healthcare, asking the company to review its policy after a constituent had to pay £50 for the delivery of a mobility scooter.
The constituent purchased the scooter for his wife and had to pay a fee to have it delivered to his AB55 postcode. The company was criticised for suggesting that delivery to UK addresses is free on its website, but it does show on its delivery information that heavy items like scooters being delivered to Zone B addresses, including the Scottish Highlands, incur a £50 charge.
“Time and time again companies get away with charging customers in Moray and rural Scotland unfair and excessive delivery costs,” Mr Lochhead told The Northern Scot.
“Unfair delivery charges are hugely frustrating for people in Moray at the best of times, but I think it is particularly galling that customers in rural Scotland face higher charges when they are looking to purchase medical equipment.”
Campaigners in Scotland are now increasing the pressure on the UK Government to act on “unfair delivery charges” to rural addresses. Mr Lochhead has raised this particular case with the Scottish Parliament and it is hoped it will press Westminster to force online retailers to reduce such charges.
Recently, a Scottish newspaper reported on another case in which Lloyds Pharmacy charged £50 to deliver a mobility scooter to a customer in Keith, also in rural North East Scotland.
When the customer complained to the firm, he was reportedly told courier charges were to blame. Lloyds Pharmacy declined to say whether courier charges were to blame but explained that the address was outside its free delivery area.
Lloyds Pharmacy’s mobility arm, Betterlife, advertises free UK delivery on orders over £40. But it also states clearly that items delivered to certain postcodes, for example in rural Scotland, Ireland and the Channel Islands, carry additional charges.
A report two years ago highlighted a ‘postcode penalty’ where online retailers were shown to be imposing higher delivery charges on rural Scottish customers than in 2012, although fewer companies imposed the surcharges.
In 2015 people in the Highlands were paying 17.6% more than in 2012 and those in the Islands pay 15.8% more.
Last month, watchdogs in Scotland demanded a full inquiry into “discriminatory” delivery charges faced by millions of Scots living in rural areas.
Liberal Democrat Mike Rumbles wrote to Ofcom about the issue after a series of high-profile cases saw Scots customers hit with high charges.