Stand and delivery: Campaigners demand fairer postal prices for Scots facing extortionate charges for parcels this Christmas

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THOUSANDS of Scots are likely to pay a postcode penalty as they order Christmas presents online.

Analysis from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) suggests a million Scots live in areas that are charged extra for delivery.

Islanders are used to being charged extra but the problem has extended to swathes of the mainland, across the Highlands, Moray, Perthshire and Aberdeenshire.

Nina Ballantyne from CAS said: “Consumers are fed up paying extra for delivery based on where they live.

“More than 20% of Scotland’s population live in areas affected by this, with the average price charged at least 30% higher than for other areas of the UK.

“In the run-up to Christmas people are likely to be buying more online, so the impact could be even greater.

“We are working with governments, delivery companies and consumer partnerships across the UK to find solutions that could reduce delivery surcharges for consumers.”

Last month, Lloyds Pharmacy changed their policy after it emerged they had asked for an extra £50 to deliver a mobility scooter to terminally-ill Jean Boyle in Keith, Moray, despite advertising free delivery to the UK mainland.

If she had lived in Aberdeenshire, just 10 miles away, it would’ve been free.

Politicians like Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey MP Drew Hendry and Moray MSP Richard Lochhead have spent years trying to bring an end to the unfair charges.

Mr Lochhead made a call for new legislation after one of his constituents was quoted a £60 delivery charge for a £8.99 item earlier this month.

But a spokeswoman for the UK Government department for business, energy and industrial strategy said delivery fees should remain a “commercial matter” without regulation.

Ken Lowson, 69, from Fochabers, Moray was Mr Lochhead’s constituent who was quoted the inflated charge.

The product was a simple attachment for a power washer and although standard delivery was quoted for UK mainland customers at £6.49, there was a special exception for particular postcodes.

His story is far from unique.

One consumer was told to stump a £19.99 surcharge for a pair of safety gloves being sent to Cromarty on the Black Isle because of a UK-wide contract with FedEx which insisted on it, even though the gloves were coming from Aberdeen-based company Arco.

An Inverness school worker was quoted £499 for delivering rubber chips for a playground to the Highland capital by online retailer Crumbz.

It would only cost £199 for non-Highland addresses, making it cheaper to have it delivered to Forres, Moray, and then shipping it across.

Mr Hendry said: “The shock that many find of ordering goods online marked as free or standard delivery and then getting stung with a big additional fee is an everyday occurrence.

“Too many companies are using rural area postcodes as an excuse to ramp up charges, with excess charges of between £5 and £100 commonly reported to me.

“People rightly feel these charges are a rip-off. It’s time to end the excuses, the unfairness and the discrimination.

“The UK Government needs to act to make it impossible for companies to act in this way.”