Amazon is in trouble with UK regulators over the way it displays free shipping on product pages. It’s another warning to all merchants about how they display pricing and product information to consumers.
The Advertising Standards Authority, UK’s independent agency for regulating advertising, investigated the two issues in a complaint against www.amazon.co.uk relating to delivery charges for an electronic product sold by AmazonBasics, seen on July 21st of last year.
In one issue, the complainant challenged whether the ads were misleading, “because they did not make the delivery charges for the item sufficiently clear” (text stated “Eligible for FREE UK Delivery”).
The ASA provided Amazon’s response to the complaint, and then explained its logic for ruling as it did.
The ASA acknowledged that the delivery options available to Amazon customers were complex. “However,” it said, “while we understood that the delivery charge for a basket of products was dependent on a range of factors, we noted that the cost of “Standard” delivery was presented to customers part-way through the purchasing process, albeit as an “Estimate(d)” cost, and Amazon was therefore able to calculate the cost of delivery for individual items in advance.”
It went on to explain in more detail its reasoning behind upholding the two issues. You can find the full ruling on this page of the ASA website.
An Amazon spokesperson told the Guardian newspaper, “We offer a wide range of delivery options and ensure that any charges are clearly visible so our customers can make an informed choice before they decide to make a purchase.”
The regulatory ruling calls to mind charges against retailers that have been made by US regulators over pricing claims, such as Kenneth Cole and Overstock.com.
Consumers can make complaints about UK companies’ advertising claims through the ASA.org.uk website.