A CHRISTCHURCH-based pet shop says it has been 'held for ransom' by national delivery service DHL.

The independent family-run company Superpet Limited said its reputation is being tarnished and it is losing a loyal customer base due to parcels being undelivered.

The dispute between DHL and Superpet began in February, following a series of 'inconsistent' surcharges added to several pet products sent to customers.

Damon Quinn is the head of global sales at Superpet and runs online sales for the business.

He said DHL is holding a large number of parcels until the business pays them 'several thousand pounds in additional charges'.

Damon said: "This has become detrimental to the reputation of our business.

"We send all our heavier parcels through DHL. Anyone ordering things like cat litter, bird feeders and dog food hasn't received their parcels since February."

Superpet said it has more than 1,000 parcels that DHL has not delivered, and the delivery firm is refusing to return them until £25,000 is paid.

Damon said: "We are being publicly slated; we have received multiple negative reviews.

"We have tried to explain what is happening to the public, and unfortunately, this isn't our fault."

Superpet opened its store in Christchurch in 1993 and then, in the early 2000s, opened an online department, which accounts for a large proportion of its sales.

On average, the business sends about 500 to 600 parcels a week with DHL; however, it says it has had to stop until the issue is resolved.

Damon said: "DHL has not provided any evidence to support their claims, and we believe these accusations are unjust. We see this as a difficult situation, similar to a David versus Goliath scenario.

"There is an error here; it's one rule for one and not for another, and it's just a bit disheartening.

"It's concerning that they don't really care, and there are many sorts of protocols that they have broken."

A spokesperson for DHL eCommerce UK said: "We're in contact with the customer and hope to resolve the issue imminently."