COMPANIES WHO CONTINUE to mislead customers in Moray and throughout the north of Scotland will likely land themselves in trouble with advertising authorities.
That is the view being expressed by the leader of the UK watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority, who have entered the growing unrest over the practice of advertising free delivery to the UK Mainland – and then saying around half of Scotland is not on the UK Mainland.
A campaign led by Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead against the unfair practices will be further bolstered one Wednesday when Douglas Ross MP leads a debate on the issue in the House of Commons.
Guy Parker, the chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has said that firms could be penalised for their misleading claims – and that the ASA is to make several recommendations to the Consumer Protection Partnership, set up jointly by the UK and Scottish Governments and which is carrying out a review on excess delivery charges.
Already in 2017 there have been 11 companies who had complaints against them upheld by the ASA for making claims that delivery is free to the UK – but then excluding those areas that are more difficult to reach.
Now the ASA will likely seek a more proactive role in the issue, Mr Parker saying: “We do not have to wait for complaints – we can monitor and take action on our own initiative and we are looking at increasingly trying to rebalance our regulations so that we are trying not to spend quite so much time on reactive complaints.
“This issue could become one of those projects that we will be doing more on next year.”
Whilst this is a welcome statement from the ASA it is weak and long overdue.
Mr Parker says that the ASA is “likely” to seek a more proactive role – customers in Moray who have for years been treated to shocking misrepresentation over their position as part of the UK Mainland will, surely, demand more than ‘likely’ from the Watchdog that has so far utterly failed in its duty to protect consumers.
It is only intense pressure at both Parliaments that has finally brought this issue to the fore – and even then it has taken some time for the ASA to say only that they ‘could’ look more at the issue next year.
That is simply not good enough – they must do more, they should have been doing more already.