One in three people in Scotland have difficulties getting hold of their parcel deliveries, according to national watchdog Consumer Scotland.
A survey of 1,000 consumers throughout Scotland suggests that more than one in 10 believe parcel collection points are too far away, while nearly a third have difficulties picking up parcels because of inconvenient opening hours at local delivery offices.
The report from Consumer Focus Scotland highlighted the surcharges that households in rural Scotland face, if delivery companies even deliver to those homes.
The research suggested consumers would like to see more choice in their collection points, to include local shops and locker banks at publicly accessible sites.
More than half of households want to see nominated times for deliveries, and evening deliveries.
Householders are also keen on better tracking technologies to monitor their shipments.
Consumer Focus Scotland is now urging Internet retailers and parcel carriers to offer more flexibility for customers in their delivery services.
Trisha McAuley, deputy director at Consumer Focus Scotland, said for many people in rural areas, although buying online could initially seem like a good deal, shipping costs can be prohibitive, or else an item may not be deliverable at all.
“We need 21st century delivery services for the whole of Scotland with a wider choice of collection points, more convenient opening hours and interactive, up to the minute delivery information to tap into,” she said.
“Getting this right would be a win-win for retailers and customers. It definitely beats coming home to a card that says you’ve missed a parcel.”
Consumer Focus Scotland said that it costs the average person in the UK GBP 177 a year to stay at home waiting for parcel deliveries. Delivery issues were estimated to cost retailers in the UK GBP 1.1bn in 2011.
The Highland Council, the local municipal authority for some of the most rural and isolated parts of Scotland, said Consumer Focus Scotland’s report confirmed some of its findings on delivery charges.
Gordon Robb said distance selling laws set certain requirements for ecommerce websites on providing full and early delivery information.
“Our recent survey uncovered a wide range of problems and we are in the process of dealing with the non-compliant businesses,” said Robb. “We will continue to work with Consumer Focus Scotland and other bodies to ensure that consumers get a fair deal on delivery.”
Margaret Lynch, chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland said more than 2,000 people contacted her organisation during its survey on the issue.
“We were completely overwhelmed by the response,” she said, saying that consumers were being over-charged or refused delivery based on their postcode. “These cases came from all over Scotland, not just the Highlands and Islands. It’s clearly a massive problem.”
Source: Post&Parcel/Consumer Focus Scotland