Saturday 16 December 2017

Minister wants end to practice that sees online shoppers pay 'over odds'

Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor in Brussels talks Picture: Tom Burke
Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor in Brussels talks Picture: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor will today tell her European counterparts she wants an end to 'geo-blocking' that sees Irish online shoppers pay more when buying from foreign websites.

Branding the practice "unfair", she said the current lack of regulation sees shoppers "paying over the odds".

Her trip to Brussels comes as Irish shoppers are set to spend tens of millions online on what has been dubbed 'Cyber Monday'.

She will tell fellow ministers that Ireland supports a proposal for an EU Regulation to prevent 'geo-blocking'.

The practice sees consumers charged different prices on websites based on their nationality or the location they are buying from.

Shoppers are prevented from accessing cheaper prices on different versions of a seller's website for specific countries.

"I want to ensure fairness across the board so that Irish consumers are not disadvantaged," Ms Mitchell O'Connor told the Irish Independent.

"Whether shopping locally or online you should be aware of the best prices available."

She said that the proposed EU regulation - which must be agreed by the European Parliament - "will prove to be of significant benefit to Irish and European consumers and small businesses when it comes to customers who are looking for choice and value."

"We should not be paying over the odds for goods that are cheaper from other locations," she said, stating that EU-wide regulation was needed to tackle the issue.

The European Commission proposed the new e-commerce rules to help consumers and companies reap full benefit of the single market.

Today's meeting involves other European ministers who have responsibility for the single market.

Meanwhile, Independent Communications Minister Denis Naughten urged Irish small businesses to take advantage of the opportunity of big shopping days like Cyber Monday to diversify their market.

He urged them to sign up for the Government's Trading Online Voucher Scheme which offers grants of up to €2,500 to help them set up and improve websites.

"Around the world, people are getting ready for Christmas by getting online," Mr Naughten said, adding that Cyber Monday was the "perfect day" for businesses to take full advantage of the potential to boost their sales.

Irish Independent

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