Watchdog to look into Amazon Prime delivery claims

The advertising watchdog is set to investigate a series of complaints about Amazon's Prime delivery service after customers reported feeling 'duped' when packages failed to arrive on time.
Amazon Prime entitles the member to one-day delivery.Amazon Prime entitles the member to one-day delivery.
Amazon Prime entitles the member to one-day delivery.

Consumers signed up to the online goods giant’s premium service have raised concerns their expected delivery dates are not being met in the run up to Christmas.

A spokeswoman for the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) confirmed it had received “a handful of complaints” from people who had signed up to Prime.

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The service costs £79 a year and includes unlimited one-day delivery, as well as access to films, music and television shows.

The spokeswoman said the complaints were being “considered”, but added that no official investigation had been opened at this stage. Speaking to a Sunday newspaper, an Amazon spokesman asked customers with queries about their deliveries to contact the company directly.

Amazon recorded sales totalling over £1.4 billion last year and boasted a worldwide Prime membership of 66 million in February.

SNP MSP Richard Lochhead welcomed reports of the investigation, adding residents and businesses in rural areas of Scotland were often “penalised” by unfair delivery charges.

He said: “Excessive delivery surcharges hit residents and businesses in many rural areas of Scotland and there are still far too many examples of companies excluding much of mainland Scotland from the definition of mainland UK so that they can apply excessive delivery surcharges.

“I welcome this conformation from the ASA that they are going to crackdown on this and help start to put an end to this unjustifiable practice.”

The ASA has already upheld complaints against 11 companies that have fallen foul of advertising regulations by making claims over national or free delivery, but excluded areas of Scotland that are more difficult to reach.

Research by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) found customers were paying a “postcode penalty” of up to 50 per cent on surcharges imposed by delivery companies. The cost of parcel delivery is at least 30 per cent higher on average for the Highlands and Islands, which often includes parts of cities such as Aberdeen and Inverness.

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New figures released by the watchdog show almost 7 per cent of the ASA’s complaints have come from Scottish customers so far in 2017, totalling more than 1,500 complaints of almost 25,000 across the UK.