Online retailers have been warned to make sure their delivery claims don’t mislead consumers, as Cyber Monday begins today.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) raised its concern that many people buying online could be hit by surcharges based on where they live in the UK.
The advertising regulator says that some online retailers are not making the charges clear and should not make absolute delivery claims if they cannot fulfil the commitment.
Earlier this year, the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) – the body which writes and maintains the UK Advertising Codes – issued an enforcement notice on advertised delivery restrictions and surcharges, applicable to all relevant advertisers in the UK.
The notice requires advertisers to take immediate action to ensure their advertising sticks to the advertising rules.
Failure to do so can lead to targeted enforcement action, taken with the aim of maintaining a level playing field amongst businesses and protect consumers.
The action may include – when advertisers are unwilling to work with the ASA and CAP – referral to COSLA in Scotland and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland for consideration of legal action.
Since April, CAP has sent out 243 Enforcement Notices.
The first batch of 116 Enforcement Notices saw a 97% compliance rate following two monitoring sweeps.
CAP has nearly completed its second monitoring sweep, with all advertisers so far contacted making changes to comply.
It includes a number of cases where delivery was extended across the UK, bringing the Highlands, Northern Ireland and other postcodes into “free UK delivery” claims.
Guy Parker, ASA chief executive, said: “Consumers shopping online on Cyber Monday shouldn’t have to worry about being hit with a delivery surcharge or be told a delivery cannot be made to their area at the end of their shopping experience.
“They need to be told upfront at the start of the customer journey. Online retailers must fulfil the delivery claims they make or we will take action against them.”