The NFRN is calling on wholesalers to be more open about the “ingredients” that make up their carriage service charges.

It comes as revised charges from Menzies Distribution are due to be announced, with the NFRN anticipating rises for two-thirds of its members, and after Smiths News announced it was offering customers the option to freeze rates.

NFRN head of news Brian Murphy said falling fuel costs and the imminent introduction of a compulsory living wage meant it was essential wholesalers shared information on the factors that determine the charges.

“We need to know what is going into the mix, and how much each ingredient constitutes,” he said.

“If we can determine that, then we have the chance to say, for example, if fuel accounts for 80% of the charge and is at a record low, then why are charges so high?”

He added that it was difficult to anticipate the effect the National Living Wage, coming into force in April 2016, would have on the supply chain without knowing how much staffing costs impacted charges.

“We are asking: ‘What is the definition of a modern carriage service charge?’ It should be much more transparent,” he said.

Scottish retailer David Woodrow, of Woodrow’s Newsagent in Renfrewshire, agreed: “It should be completely open and broken down into what we are actually paying for.

“If they call it a service charge, and not just a carriage charge, then there is obviously more than just the fuel element to it.”

Menzies Distribution and Smiths News were both unavailable for comment at the time RN went to press.