NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

£50 delivery charge for £5.99 Halfords towel condemned

Halfords store Image copyright PA
Image caption Halfords said the towels were provided by an independent retailer who provided them direct

A £50 delivery charge imposed by Halfords to send towels costing £5.99 to Speyside has been condemned as "shocking" by Nicola Sturgeon.

The first minister was responding to a query from Moray MSP Richard Lochhead, who said rural constituents were being "fleeced" with such charges.

Ms Sturgeon called on the UK government to act to prevent delivery charges that were "vastly out of proportion".

Halfords said the fee was "exceptional" for an "online exclusive" product.

During First Minister's Questions at Holyrood, Mr Lochhead said his constituent had been treated with "contempt".

'Greedy companies'

He said: "To make matters worse, they have implied that the high charge is to put off customers in the north of Scotland from ordering. So much for the season of good will.

"Would the first minister agree that as more and more rural residents buy online in the run up to Christmas, that they should not be treated with this contempt or fleeced by greedy companies or discriminated against for living in the north of Scotland."

Image copyright Thinkstock

Nicola Sturgeon said her government had played an "active role" in developing a statement of principle for delivery charges, which reputable companies should adhere to.

She added: "The level of charge that Richard Lochhead has outlined today is shocking. Certainly based on what he has said today, it seems vastly out of proportion and, yes, I am in full agreement that excessive charging for parcel deliveries is unacceptable."

'Cost effective resolution'

In a statement, Halfords said it was working with its suppliers to review its delivery charges.

The statement said: "When ordering from normal postage to the Highlands and Islands region applies in over 95% of cases.

"The exception to this is if a customer purchases an online only exclusive product on Halfords Marketplace, which is an online platform that Halfords hosts for smaller independent retailers who deliver direct.

"We are currently working with our Marketplace suppliers to review this to help reach a more cost-effective resolution for customers ordering from those Marketplace suppliers. "

Nicola Sturgeon said the UK government had the power and the "obligation" to prevent over-the-top charging for delivery and that she would continue to press for action on the issue.

A study by the Citizens Advice Bureau in 2015 found consumers in the Highlands and islands were paying substantially more for delivery charges.

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