Hidden delivery charges are damaging the industry

Suppliers that fail to declare their delivery charges or add them as a hidden extra are doing the catering equipment no favours. If the industry is to protect its reputation for good service, companies need to come clean on delivery fees, writes Gary Allen sales director at E & R Moffat.

It’s about time the catering equipment industry sorted out the issue of delivery charges. Pricing has to be transparent, especially in the current economic climate.

Catering equipment buyers need to be told from the outset whether they will be charged for delivery, and what those charges are. Otherwise how can they compare the true cost of a purchase?

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Catering equipment companies that charge for delivery but don’t flag it upfront are no better than low-cost airlines that add extra charges to the price of a seat.

And we all know just how irritating that can be. It’s infuriating for buyers to find out, at the end of a lengthy purchasing process, that they are going to have to pay extra for their products.

There are companies, including Moffat, that offer free delivery on products supplied to the UK mainland. The trouble is, buyers who get caught out by delivery charges understandably become cynical about the whole foodservice equipment industry — so even companies that don’t charge for delivery are affected.

The issue is damaging us all. Delivery charges vary from company to company. Some are free. Others may charge from around £20 to £100 or more. In a tough economic climate, just a few tens of pounds may swing a purchase one way or another.

That’s why delivery charges are so important right now. One way to tackle some of the costs associated with delivery is to reduce packaging. For example, Moffat has developed a bespoke transport system that does away with the need for 90% of packaging.

It has taken some investment and time, but by using things like protective harnessing and special loading procedures we have been able to ensure that all products are securely cosseted in transit. The products arrive in exactly the same condition as they left the factory, without the need for excess and expensive packaging.

Another benefit is that, because there’s no waste packaging to take off and dispose of, the system saves our customers time too. What’s more, because the system is re-usable and does away with 90% of waste packaging, it’s much more environment-friendly.

We want all equipment suppliers to include delivery charges upfront, so caterers and buyers know exactly what the total cost of their equipment purchase is going to be.

Let’s be frank, if you’re going to charge for delivery and aren’t willing to talk about it at the start of the tendering process, you’re not being open and honest.

For the time being, the message to the catering equipment industry is ‘sort it out’. Meanwhile, the message to the catering equipment buyer is check for delivery charges — before you buy!

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