An announcement from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that they have “issued an Enforcement Notice on Advertised Delivery Restrictions and Surcharges” has been welcomed.

The measure comes as the ASA have ruled that adverts which “mislead on parcel delivery and surcharge practices” have been banned, forcing companies to be upfront with consumers from the outset as to how much they will need to pay in delivery costs for goods.

Companies who advertise free delivery on items, yet impose punitive charges well into the purchasing process will be slapped down by the ASA after the 31st May 2018, when the new rules come into effect.

The action follows a campaign led by Moray MP Douglas Ross who has campaigned to abolish discriminatory delivery charges, raising the issue with the Prime Minister and holding a debate in Westminster on the matter.

Donald Cameron MSP said: “This is a big step forward in protecting consumers from misleading delivery advertising.  All too often, people who live across the Highlands and Islands region attempt to buy products online in good faith that they will receive free delivery, only to find out after entering their postcode that punitive charges will be imposed.  I welcome this intervention by the Advertising Standards Authority, and hopefully we can continue with the wider campaign of ditching discriminatory delivery charges for good”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan said: “It has long been a source of deep frustration to many islanders shopping online that sites appear to offer free UK delivery, whereas, often as late as the check-out stage, additional charges are added when an HS postcode is entered.

"Constituents have regularly brought examples to me of occasions when these delivery charges are either in excess of the price of the product they wished to purchase, or entirely out of proportion to the actual delivery costs.

“I am particularly heartened by the fact that this enforcement notice has been described by the Advertising Standards Authority as a ‘first step’, acknowledging that there is still more to be done to bring about an equitable situation for areas such as the Western Isles.”