The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has slammed retailers making “misleading” free delivery claims imposing strict rules on future adverts.
Following numerous complaints of a “postcode lottery” in which additional delivery fees apply to more rural areas, the advertising watchdog has banned any retailers from claiming free delivery if the entire country is not covered.
It said that areas like the Scottish Highlands, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Wight were most commonly slapped with undisclosed surcharges, adding that any restrictions or exclusions must now be made clear from the outset.
“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.”
According to a study by Citizens Advice Scotland, customers in the most northern parts of Scotland pay an average of 30 per cent more than the rest of the UK for deliveries, while those living on Scottish islands pay up to 50 per cent more.
Richard Lochhead SNP MSP has been leading the fight against misleading adverts, heading the Fair Delivery Charges campaign and providing information to the ASA in its investigation.
Though he called for more to be done he said: “It’s now incumbent upon those companies who are failing to be upfront with consumers to sit up, take notice and change their practices. I hope they respond swiftly to this very clear shot across their bows.”
“Ultimately, if companies truly value their customers in rural and northern Scotland then they shouldn’t be discriminating at all when it comes to delivering goods.”