Companies advertising free UK delivery which doesn't include north 'should be reported to Advertising Standards'
ANY company advertising free UK delivery which excludes Northern Ireland should be reported to the Advertising Standards Authority, the Consumer Council has said.
Confusion around post-Brexit customs declarations has led many companies to stop or pause deliveries to the north.
However, consumers have complained that some companies have not made their delivery information clear.
The Irish News reported yesterday that an English-based bed company is quoting customers almost £100 million to deliver to Northern Ireland.
Divan-beds.co.uk, which describes itself as the UK’s “leading supplier of divan beds, bed frames and luxury mattresses”, said it had set the astonishing price to make it “more clear” that they do not ship outside Britain.
Branding on the company’s website, along with a Union flag-branded map which includes the north, promises free delivery in the UK.
But when The Irish News contacted the company, it said it does not “deliver to any off-shore locations as stated on our delivery information page”.
Kellin McCloskey, head of postal services at the Consumer Council, said: “Under Consumer Contract Regulations 2013, online sellers must indicate clearly and legibly, no later than at the beginning of the ordering process, if any delivery restrictions, whether geographical or otherwise, apply.
"If information about any delivery charges is not provided, then the customer may be entitled not to pay such charges.
"If a seller is offering free UK delivery, but excludes certain areas of the UK like Northern Ireland, this could be considered misleading information.
"If you are a consumer affected by this, The Consumer Council would encourage you to report all instances of such promotions to the Advertising Standards Authority.
"They regulate against sellers offering misleading or erroneous promotions such as this and will issue enforcement notices to offending retailers."
She said there is no legislation which governs how much retailers charge for posting to a particular area.
"Excessively high delivery charges leads to higher costs and less choice for Northern Ireland consumers," she said.
"Consumers can gain more information on their consumer rights regarding deliveries from online orders from www.deliverylaw.uk website."
The end of the Brexit transition period on January 1 has caused confusion for businesses and consumers in Northern Ireland.
Under an agreement reached between the European Union and UK, the north remains within the EU single market for goods. The agreement aimed to avoid a hard border between the north and Republic.
Due to a three-month grace period, parcels sent between Britain and Northern Ireland will not be subject to checks until April 1.
However, the Consumer Council said a long-term solution is needed for consumers and businesses.
"With only 11 weeks until 1 April 2021, The UK Government are to still release information on how parcels will be handled between GB and NI," Ms McCloskey said.