Consumer Focus Scotland demands action on 'poor' parcel service
Many Scots are being penalised by high charges and poor service when it comes to parcel delivery, according to a consumer watchdog.
A survey by Consumer Focus Scotland found those living in rural areas had the most difficulty receiving parcels.
They often faced high postage fees or some companies who refused to deliver.
The watchdog also highlighted problems with inconvenient opening hours at local delivery offices. It has called for an overhaul of parcel services.
Consumer Focus Scotland carried out an online survey of consumers, held focus groups and spoke to parcel delivery operators.
The findings highlighted demand for more varied collection points, nominated delivery times and the use of SMART phone technology to track parcels.
More than half of households who took part said they would like to see nominated times for deliveries, and deliveries in the evening.
'Costs a packet'
Trisha McAuley, deputy director at Consumer Focus Scotland said: "Online shopping often offers greater choice, convenience and value for money.
"But the downside, for many people especially in rural areas, is that having found the best deal and ordered online, the parcel then costs a packet or they have trouble receiving it.
"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."
In its report based on the survey, the watchdog has also called for the standard uniform delivery tariff, provided by the Royal Mail, to always be offered to protect rural consumers from being penalised.
Gordon Robb, trading standards manager at Highland Council said: "We welcome Consumer Focus Scotland's excellent report which confirms some of our own findings and suspicions about the issue of delivery charges.
"In particular, we would reiterate the importance of businesses complying with distance selling laws and providing full and early delivery information."
Last December thousands of consumers contacted Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) to complain about unfair rural delivery charges after it launched a survey seeking people's views on the issue.
CAS chief executive, Margaret Lynch, said: "These cases came from all over Scotland, not just the Highlands and Islands. It's clearly a massive problem.
"We have been working with Consumer Focus Scotland, Trading Standards and others to try and get solutions and persuade some of the offending companies to change their ways.
"We will continue to do that, and to make sure that Scottish consumers get a fair deal from parcel delivery services."