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Non-returned totes surcharge

Totes form an important part of the Alliance Healthcare business enabling us to deliver products safely and securely and keep products moving around our network and out to our customers.

Since 1st January 2019, Alliance Healthcare has had more than 24,000 totes reported as lost or missing from our operations. The cost of a lost tote is approximately £8 each which amounts to a significant cost to our business.

There is also an environmental cost to lost totes, causing us to use replacement packaging that cannot always be recycled.  Keeping the existing totes and extending their working life in Alliance Healthcare will help us to reduce the amount of plastic we use and generate in the distribution of products.

Until now Alliance Healthcare has not imposed a charge on customers for unreturned totes and has borne the cost of replacing lost totes ourselves as a business.  Unfortunately this is not a sustainable position and after much consideration Alliance Healthcare has decided to introduce a charge for unreturned totes in certain circumstances, as permitted by paragraph 4.4 of the Alliance Healthcare Terms and Conditions.

How and when will I be charged?

We will only be imposing a charge if a single dispensing point has seven (7) or more unreturned totes outstanding for a month after the month of delivery. 

Alliance Healthcare tracks actual totes delivered each month.  A report is run in the middle of the month after the month during which totes were delivered (at any point in that given month) to a customer.  We will email any customers having seven (7) or more totes (from the relevant month) recorded as still being in the customer's possession at the date that the report is run.  Totes that have been delivered in the following month will not be counted in this report.

If you do not return the totes to us, after this email, you will be charged at the end of the month following.

We are going paperless! In the upcoming months we are migrating tote notifications from post to email only. Not only will this change benefit the environment, you will also receive notifications quickly and directly.

Please ensure you are signed up to Alliance Healthcare B2B portal registered as an ‘admin user’ to ensure you receive the tote emails. For support in registering, please contact

How will I know if I have unreturned totes?

Approximately two weeks after the end of the relevant month, we will run a report on unreturned totes.  If the customer has more than seven (7) unreturned totes we will write to that customer, notifying them of the unreturned totes, requesting return and warning them of the potential tote surcharge if the totes are not returned.

You should then return any totes as soon as possible. If you do not return the totes by the beginning of the following month a charge will be made for the missing totes and Alliance Healthcare will write to you again, confirming the amount of the surcharge that will be added to your account at the end of the month.

How much will I be charged?

The surcharge is £8 per unreturned tote.

A non-returned tote will only ever be charged once to the customer.  After receiving a charge for a non-returned tote, the tote becomes the property of the customer.

How to return a tote

Totes should be returned to your Alliance Healthcare driver as soon as it has been emptied and the driver is available to accept the tote. Please note, the best time to return a tote to your driver is in the afternoon shift when the van has more space.

Should you have any questions, please contact your usual Account Manager or customer services representative.