'Misleading' free delivery claims banned by UK watchdog

Online shopping is becoming part and parcel of our everyday lives, but too many British consumers are being lured with claims of free delivery only to find out they are being charged additional delivery fees during the checkout, said the Advertising Standards Agency on Friday.

Many e-commerce sites offer free UK delivery, without clearly stating that not all postcodes can benefit from service. For example, the Isle of Wight is often excluded for UK Delivery, or there is an extra charge to deliver to Northern Ireland, despite both being part of the UK.  

That is why the advertising watchdog has issued an enforcement notice, asking all online and distance retailers who use parcel delivery service to ensure their claims are clear and fair by 31 of May.

“Companies must honour the delivery claims they’re making or stop making them,” ASA chief executive Guy Parker said. “It’s simply not fair to mislead people about whether parcels can be delivered to them, or how much it will cost.”

The ASA’s Compliance team will take targeted enforcement action from June to ensure a level-playing-field, with firms caught violating the notice facing a possible referral to Trading Standards, which has the power to take legal action, amongst other sanctions.

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