Online shoppers still facing discrimination in the EU

Nationality and place of residence is hurting people's pockets, according to a new report...

Online shoppers still facing discrimination in the EU

In this photo illustration, Walmart advertises Cyber Monday sales on the company's website | Image: Scott Olson/Getty Images

EU online shoppers, including Irish people, still face unjustified discrimination due to nationality and place of residence.

A report from the European Consumer Centre Network shows that some traders practice internet geo-blocking to prevent certain EU consumers' access to services.

It cites an Irish shopper who was recently charged €155 by a UK online trader for a dress after using an Irish credit card even though the same product was sold for £95 to British customers. In another instance, a holidaymaker was unable to hire a car simply because she had an Irish licence.

Ireland sends the third-highest number of complaints to the EU regarding this issue.

Austria took the top spot with 138 complaints, Italy was second with 68, and Ireland had 66.

Overall, the report showed that complaints were up 140% in the two years from 2013 to 2015, compared to the previous two years.

Not only are prices higher, but consumers regularly have to deal with refusal to deliver based on these factors. The complaints highlight how some of the barriers are unjustifiably created by traders. Over 82% of cases reported were due to residency rather than nationality. nearly 68% concerned price or service differentiation, chiefly when it came to the online purchase of the likes of electronics, clothes, books, music, vehicles and household goods.

Martina Nee of the European Consumer Centre Network in Dublin said:

"The ECC-Net is calling on greater clarity under the service directive for what is discrimination, what business practices can traders use, because in certain circumstances there are situations where traders may not be able to apply services.

"So there needs to be better clarity on that and there needs to be stronger enforcement when in breach of the curve."