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Storm as online retailers stop taking orders for Scotland

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A storm is raging around online shopping services to Scotland, where a string of major retailers have stopped taking orders ahead of Christmas because of delays caused by the bad weather.

Scotland’s transport minister Keith Brown is reported to have said it is “unreasonable” for the traders to refuse to deliver to Scotland when they are still serving northern England.

Among those that have said they cannot take new orders for delivery to Scotland are Tesco Direct, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s, while Amazon reports delays. Delivery company Parcelforce, which previously stopped taking new deliveries, is now delivering to Scotland again but has brought its final delivery date back to Friday December 17.

In an update today on the Marks & Spencer website, the company said it was not taking orders for home delivery to Scottish postcodes – or to some in the north of England - because it couldn’t guarantee delivery dates. It was confident that orders already placed would be delivered. It said: “Our delivery teams in these areas have up to seven days of parcels in their network due to the recent bad weather. Their warehouses are full and they cannot take any more parcels till the backlog is clear.”

There are similar messages on the Tesco Direct and Sainsbury's websites while Amazon warns that orders to Scotland may take up to two days longer than usual to deliver.

Delivery company Parcelforce has today said it will start taking previously-suspended orders for Scottish postcodes as of today but that no more orders will be taken after Friday December 17.

Our view: Snowfall brought great cheer to online retailers earlier this month when it seemed that bad weather would keep shoppers at home, boosting online sales as never before. But now logistical problems are proving the hangover from that pre-Christmas celebration. For without delivery, online retail fails completely.

So are the major retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury’s right to say they can’t guarantee delivery of new non-food orders? For my part, I’d have to say yes. Surely it’s much better to disappoint through honesty before the order is placed than to infuriate customers by taking orders – and giving promises that can’t be delivered on. For that’s the kind of disappointment that turns customers away not just now but for the future.

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