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Rural shoppers granted immunity from unfair ‘free shipping’ charges

13 April 2018 - 09:08 by Simon Crisp

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The UK’s advertising regulator has put a stop to e-commerce sites advertising free delivery to UK addresses and then charging customers who live in the most isolated areas of the country extra when they go to checkout.

The Telegraph reports that a growing number of people in rural regions, as well as those living on islands like Anglesey, had made complaints about the false claims made by retailers that offer free shipping. This led to an investigation by the Committees of Advertising Practice, which in turn resulted in the decision announced earlier this week.

Companies which offer safe shopping online, including Amazon, are known for upping delivery costs significantly for those who live outside of major towns and cities. Now as part of the latest clampdown on false advertising, it will be illegal for outlets to claim that they will ship packages to UK customers free of charge if there is an additional fee for those living in the countryside.

Starting this June, any retailer which is in breach of the new rules could be fined, so long as it is reported to Trading Standards. This means consumers who love safe shopping online but who are not in urban centres will need to remain vigilant and be proactive to fight back against dodgy delivery claims.

A spokesperson for the regulator said that it was not appropriate for retailers to make claims on their websites which are misleading to customers. This not only applies to the cost of delivery, but also to whether or not it is even possible to get packages shipped to certain areas.

Online shopping has become a lifeline for many people in rural places, so the decision to stop false claims about free delivery being available will help millions across the country.