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Discrimination due to Place of Residence

Discrimination due to Place of Residence

Internet retailers must not treat people differently because of where they live unless it can be justified by objective reasons.  This means that delivery surcharges based on geography must be based on real costs and not based on arbitrary figures or attempts to extract extra profits.  If a consumer encounters this when buying online, it probably does not create a basis for an individual claim and the consumer cannot force the seller to reduce the surcharges.  But the discrimination can be reported to Trading Standards.

Example 4

Discrimination related to place of residence

A consumer visits a large retailer’s site and selects a pair of jeans to buy.  At the start of the buying process, the website makes very clear that surcharges apply to some areas: standard delivery to most of UK is £3.50 but delivery to all IV and AB postcodes (including the cities of Aberdeen and Inverness) is £19.95.

Consumer Rights

This seems an excessive surcharge that is unlikely to be based on real costs to these destinations and so may unlawfully discriminate.  Consumer cannot force the seller to charge the lower delivery rate as these provisions do not create extra consumer rights.

What can the consumer do?

  • Abandon sale and go to another website, AND/OR
  • Write to the retailer complaining about possible unlawful discrimination  
  • Report possible discrimination to Trading Standards