WH Smith News has drawn up a new scale of carriage service charges (CSCs) that its retailer customers pay for the delivery of newspapers and magazines.

The changes should clarify the charges and make them easier for retailers to understand, said WH Smith News. The scale, which will be implemented from March 17, calculates CSCs based on the type of service the retailer receives, with a standing charge plus a variable charge calculated on average weekly sales.

There is a reduction in charges for about 30% of customers while the increase on the maximum charge has been kept to 3%.

The maximum increase for those customers who are not on WH Smith News' current scale of charges, and who have had the benefit of lower than average charges for some time (grandfathered' retailers), has been capped at £6 a week. There is also provision for smaller customers: the new scale includes a reduced minimum charge for about 1,800 newspaper-only customers.

There is a reduction in the minimum rate for customers taking newspapers and magazines (from £25.08 to £19.76).

Roundsmen - who home-deliver subscription newspapers and magazines - will be treated as newspaper-only customers, even where they take magazines. The charges will be reviewed again in January 2003 and then at 12-monthly intervals, not six-monthly intervals, as in the past.

Brendan Fitzmaurice, WH Smith News' managing director, says: "This is a major restructuring of a complex system which we hope will bring more clarity and consistency for our retail customers. We have aligned carriage service charges with the service each individual outlet requires, which we believe is a more logical approach.

"We believe it is illogical to continue to allow grandfathered' retailers the benefit of lower charges. However, we are mindful of the impact on those retailers if we were to move them immediately to their new rate, and for this reason we are capping their increases this year."

All WH Smith News' retail customers are being notified of the changes by letter, together with a copy of the new scale of charges.