Amazon UK Shift the Goalposts

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Once upon a time, not so long ago, Amazon UKwas a cool place to shop.
For some really odd reason they've changed their terms of service regarding deliveries.

PC & Video Games, Toys & Games and Gift items
* United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) only.

while for electronics:

Electronics & Photo and Home & Garden items
* and Marketplace: United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) only.

I would really love to know why.
It's not due to pricing, exchange rates or anything like that, as Dabs will ship to Ireland, as will What this means is that I can still buy stuff from Amazon US or one of Amazon's many competitors, but I can't buy from the UK store anymore.
When you consider that they have only recently announced their intended expansion into Ireland, with the opening of some form of call centre in Cork, it all seems really quite odd.
If anyone has an inside track on this I would love to know........

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118 Responses to Amazon UK Shift the Goalposts

  1. Ken McGuire May 8, 2006 at 9:51 am #

    Games and select gift items from…. never had a bother there and its free shipping still 🙂 Pity about the changeup though… unless of course they’re planning on launching an any time soon!

  2. michele May 8, 2006 at 9:56 am #

    Yeah – I ordered a load of stuff off the other day, but I am more than a little annoyed by Amazon’s antics

  3. Justin Mason May 8, 2006 at 1:26 pm #

    Yeah, it’s very disappointing — what with this, and the cruddy delivery times and prices, offer a pretty crappy service, all told.
    This is a real bummer for me, as I was practically an addict while I was living in the states, and I’m now having to deal with the cold turkey 😉

  4. michele May 8, 2006 at 1:49 pm #

    I ordered Battlefield 1942 from Amazon US last Sunday. It was delivered on Tuesday!
    If only the UK lot were as efficient!

  5. adam May 8, 2006 at 1:51 pm #

    I just check this out with a camera, and yes it’s true. I’ll be emailing Amazon to ask why, and to tell them that if they don’t reintroduce it, I won’t buy /anything/ there.

  6. michele May 8, 2006 at 1:54 pm #

    We already got them to ring us about it on Thursday. The call centre staff don’t seem to know why…

  7. adam May 8, 2006 at 1:55 pm #

    “I notice that you are no longer delivering electronic/photography/home/garden/etc items to Ireland any more. I would like to know why this is the case please. If there isn’t a reasonable reason, I won’t be buying at Amazon any more.”
    (I use Amazon because it’s a handy one-stop shop, because their support is generally good, and because I’ve found many of their competitors useless –’s response when they screwed up an order of mine was pathetic, for example – but I don’t see why I should support them if they’re going to “discriminate” against me.)

  8. michele May 8, 2006 at 6:53 pm #

    I would be very interested to know what their criteria is ……….

  9. adam May 9, 2006 at 1:24 am #

    They wouldn’t give me an answer Michele. Their first answer basically repeated my question, so I assumed it was a dumbass copy-and-paste CS muppet and sent the question again, with an overview of my opinion of said CS person. The second reply essentially said that the first was correct.
    I’ve asked for an escalation, account cancellation and data protection removal, but god only knows where the messages go to, and as you know Amazon make it next to impossible to contact them. If they don’t respond satisfactorily I’ll do it by snail to their UK and official European HQ.
    €344.46 I’ve spent with them since the start of the year, plus $102.49 on, a good two-thirds of it electronics. My leaving won’t break the bank, but I just won’t deal with companies like that. I’d prefer to spend more with someone that’ll make the effort.

  10. michele May 9, 2006 at 1:27 am #

    Have you tried the “call me back now” option on their site?

  11. adam May 9, 2006 at 2:39 am #


  12. linedash May 9, 2006 at 9:39 am #
    Amazon use cut+paste pre-written replys for almost ALL communication with customers – and for the most part, it works.
    If you have an customer service staff of thousands, its much easier to have them all reading off the same script rather than training them all in every single policy shift that happens. Especially when you are outsourcing.
    Amazon don’t make it next to impossible to contact them; they make it so if you want to contact somone – it has to go through the correct channels. You can find how to talk to a customer service rep with relative ease from the help section. Can you blame them for hiding it one level down as to make people actually USE the help section and not just fire off an email for every simply question already answered?
    I don’t agree with the policy changes, however I do know that if you email them to express this and request that your comments are passed up the food chain – they more than likely will be.

  13. adam May 9, 2006 at 10:04 am #

    How do you get to that page? I navigated the Help and Contact sections yesterday and didn’t see it.
    I don’t have a problem with multi-level support systems; believe me, I realise the necessity. I do have a problem with companies that go to the lengths Amazon do to stop people contacting them. There’s helping people help themselves and there’s helping yourself avoid talk to the customer. Amazon does the latter, and that’s not customer service, it’s self-service.
    Amazon used to be customer-focused and customer-friendly. Anyone that says they’re either of those now isn’t paying attention. They serve ads on their caalogue for f*ck’s sake!

  14. Colm MacCarthaigh May 9, 2006 at 12:20 pm #

    This may well be something worth bringing to the attention of the office of the European Consumer Centre;
    As EU citizens, we have the right to purchase products in any EU state. are obliged to facilitate this. Whether or not they can get around this by limiting their terms for shipping, I don’t know. However, as more and more consumer business moves online, the benefits of the internal market are simply being made a mockery of (especially for smaller states) and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some political traction to be had in an issue such as this.
    The commissioner for the Internal Market (Charlie McCreevy) might also be interested.

  15. Ken McGuire May 9, 2006 at 12:36 pm #

    We can still purchase them, there’s nothing stopping us doing that, but nothing saying about having to ship them to us. If we can still purchase their goods by proxy shipment then its good enough for them…

  16. Colm MacCarthaigh May 9, 2006 at 12:41 pm #

    The shipment of goods is a service, and Amazon are proding that service (via a subcontractor). O.k., so that’s very tortuous, and I have little doubt that there must be a loophole in this area (as there are thousands of European businessess which restrict shipping).
    Nevertheless, what is going on is very much not in the spirit of the Internal Market, and is discriminatory to the citizens of smaller states. We’re meant to get the benefits of a larger market economy, that’s one of the big points.
    There may well be a lot of politics in that there, and I could easily see the commission regulating in the area if enough people complain about the practise.

  17. michele May 9, 2006 at 12:50 pm #

    You can’t force vendors to sell to anyone.
    Amazon are the ones who are going to lose out on this and I honestly don’t see why the politicians would even care.
    A lot of companies will not ship overseas – it’s as much a vendor’s right to choose who they will ship to as it is yours to feel that they are discriminating against you.
    If you were trying to buy hosting from us and happened to be outside certain countries our site would not allow you to do so.
    Are we being discriminatory?
    I don’t think so. I think we are exercising our right to choose who we do business with.

  18. Colm MacCarthaigh May 9, 2006 at 1:02 pm #

    IANAL, but if you are refusing to provide a service to some EU citizens which you are similarly providing to other EU citizens, purely on the basis of their nationality or country-of-origin, you should really contact your solicitor and assess your liability. Last I checked, that was certainly illegal.
    Contract law is very complicated, and it’s always possible to argue over when an ofference is constituted, but generally in the consumer area offerences have to be valid for all EU citizens equally. If I walk into a shop in Germany, they cannot simply deny me based purely on where I live. The same applies online.
    Doesn’t mean a business can’t refuse to deal with you for a whole host of reasons, but nationality and citizenship are not two of them. There is no absolute right to simply pick and choose who you do business with,

  19. adam May 9, 2006 at 1:06 pm #

    For the record, I don’t really think Amazon are “discriminating”, despite my comment earlier (hence the quotes in that post). I don’t doubt there’s a good reason for it, or at least a good reason for them not to do it (implied by their disinclination to provide it to me). I think they’re probably just plain being greedy, and most of you probably know how I feel about this “shareholders first” bullsh*t.
    This was just the last straw for me. I’ve already given my reasons why I shopped at Amazon, and they’re all gone now: they’re no longer a one-stop shop; their support started going to sh*t some time ago (and dropped another notch on this occasion imho); and both of those kill off the “better than the rest” advantage.
    Let them exercise that right, that’s their decision. And of course we have the right to complain, and never buy there again.

  20. adam May 9, 2006 at 1:14 pm #

    Colm, while you have a point, if you work for a while in the hosting business you’ll realise that accepting orders from some countries – most outside the EU as it happens, but that’s neither here nor there – can actually hurt your business. A very large majority of the orders – 90%+ – will be fraudulent (stolen credit cards) and/or abusive (spammers/botsters). If I was in Michele’s position, with automated ordering systems, I wouldn’t accept them either. It’s not worth the risk or the effort of filtering them.

  21. Justin Mason May 9, 2006 at 1:20 pm #

    For what it’s worth, I’d like to point out that this is all Amazon UK; have excellent service, in my experience.

  22. adam May 9, 2006 at 1:23 pm #

    Speaking of and changing the subject completely, I noticed that some products I ordered recently came with a German postmark, what’s that about? I know Deutsche Post has the contract for Europe, but I would have thought the postmark would still be the US. Does have warehouses in Europe? If so, they’re stocking products they don’t stock on!

  23. Colm MacCarthaigh May 9, 2006 at 1:29 pm #

    As I said, I’d have my liability assessed if I were in such a situation. The business risk is that you may be open to a suit from an EU citizen and liable for your trouble, bearing in mind that a competitor could iniatiate such a suit.
    But it is complex, say for example you had a “call-back” support service, which saves even mobile users the cost of a support call. It’d be fine (I think) to say “Irish numbers only”, but not “Irish people only”, and it’s an important distinction. In Ireland we have seprate race discrimination law which covers this anyway, but EU Internal Market rules also apply.
    Now, with sufficient legal hair-splitting, it may be possible to say “Irish Credit Cards only” whatever that means, on the grounds that any EU citizen could get one (can they? I don’t know, would a court even like this anyway? noone knows). It’s all a bit murky, but I’d tread carefully, and I’d be mindful that there is no blanket right not to deal with someone. Of course you can refuse a contract with anyone for an awful lot of reasons (including not just liking the look of someone).
    As for this being a political issue; this is actually on of the few areas the European Commission takes very seriously. The whole idea of the Internal Market is to ultimately develop a European super-economy, with us being free (and it being relatively easy) to buy and sell goods anywhere in the EU. Consumer law, product and safety standards, exchange rules and so on are all harmonised with this in mind, and the kind of nonsense we’re increasingly seeing from distance retailers is going against this.

  24. michele May 9, 2006 at 1:38 pm #

    Adam – a lot of US companies seem to ship stuff from Germany. I suspect that they ship large quantities of orders to there and then send on the individual items, but I could be completely wrong.
    Justin – I don’t have any issue with Amazon’s service. I just wish they would tell us why they have decided to stop shipping certain goods to this country

  25. Pádraig Brady May 9, 2006 at 5:18 pm #

    A friend of mine in Amazon told me that it’s probably because of the
    “waste recycling charge”. Amazon don’t want to breach any laws,
    and also may add support for the charge in future.

  26. michele May 9, 2006 at 5:42 pm #

    The waste charge does not apply to software……..

  27. adam May 9, 2006 at 6:20 pm #

    A lady named Ruzi from Amazon called me back as requested, and speculated that the reason for this policy change might be because some manufacturers restrict what markets retailers can sell into, for various reasons including warranties. I replied that while I understand that this happens, I think it’s unlikely within the EU; if not illegal
    When I pressed Ruzi on whether this was the (or an) actual reason for the policy change, she said it was just speculation. I asked her what the actual reason was, and she told me she didn’t know; so I had to ask if she’d find out (I really shouldn’t have needed to). She said she would, and did actually ring me back 5 or 10 minutes later.
    Her response this time was that she could confirm that there had indeed been a policy change. In other words, she was confirming what the second CS rep had confirmed; who was confirming what the first CS rep was confirming; who was confirming what I had told them in the first place. And I thought the Kinsale Road Roundabout was tricky.
    We went around the block a bit more, but in basic terms she wouldn’t give me any more information, and repeated several times that she wasn’t “privy” to the reason why. Her repetition (and use of the word “privy”!) sounded very rehearsed, so I’d assume that this is what she was told to say.
    The gf speculated that maybe they’re preparing an, so I asked Ruzi out of mischievousness. She actually seemed thrown by the question, but that could just be because I threw it in out of nowhere. The gf thought WEEE might be a reason too, but I didn’t ask about that.
    Either way, their handling of this has been atrocious and I said as much to Ruzi, outlining how much I’d spent with Amazon this year, and that I and possibly many others would ditch Amazon because of their attitude. She quoted my join date back to me and made sympathetic noises, without actually saying or doing anything.
    So I asked for a snail mail address so I could submit a formal complaint, and left it at that. Here it is: Ltd
    Patriot Court
    1-9 The Grove
    SL1 1QP
    United Kingdom

  28. michele May 9, 2006 at 7:01 pm #

    So basically they fobbed you off, or at least tried to?
    How hard can it be for them to provide an actual answer?
    I know that there are times when you get asked really awkward questions that you may not want to give a direct answer to, but this is nuts!

  29. adam May 9, 2006 at 8:04 pm #

    Exactly Michele. I’ve been sidelined and bumped by the best of them, but at least those people had the balls to tell me that they’re not answering for a particular reason, be it marketing / trade secrecy / whatever. I’ve even been told that I can’t be told for reasons that I can’t be told; but even that’s better than this duplicitous guff I’m supposed to accept from Amazon. It’s the kind of thing I’d expect from a (very bad) Oirish politician. Jesus, they haven’t even moved into their DC in Dublin yet and they’re embracing the Oirish Way. Jesus help the rest of Europe, that’s all I can say.

  30. Gordy May 9, 2006 at 8:04 pm #

    Check out it’s basically prices in Euro et al.

  31. michele May 9, 2006 at 8:14 pm #

    Gordy – it’s an affiliate site which displays pricing in Euro. It won’t make any difference when it comes to delivery options
    Adam – I may try ringing them again to see if they can come up with a more plausible explanation. At this juncture I would simply like to know why – I don’t care what the reason is, but I’d just like to know it and also why it was so damned hard for them to tell us…

  32. michele May 9, 2006 at 8:16 pm #

    On a related note.. the two items that I wanted to buy from Amazon last week arrived from today. The nice thing about is that they display the pricing in Euro and offer free shipping to Ireland!

  33. adam May 9, 2006 at 9:14 pm #

    Found’s customer service awful too. Ordered a (not cheap!) box set of Farscape season one, and it came with two identical discs. I notified Play and returned the set and they sent out a new one, which I thought wasn’t bad; even if it was at my expense.
    Unfortunately the second set was exactly the same, and when I contacted them to report this, they suggested sending out another replacement. Just to be sure, I asked if they’d check this one to see if it was ok, to which they replied that they couldn’t, because their warehouse is in Jersey. So I returned it, again at my cost.
    Who knew they didn’t have telephones in Jersey!

  34. michele May 9, 2006 at 9:20 pm #

    At least with Amazon they’ve always been very good about resending orders if there were issues like the one I had a couple of years ago where their system invented a new address for me.. a completely impossible one of course.. so the package took over a month to reach me

  35. adam May 9, 2006 at 9:23 pm #

    I’ve had excellent dealings with Amazon CS in the past, including exactly that. However it’s slowly but surely been going downhill. Shareholders first, customers second.

  36. Simon McGarr May 11, 2006 at 12:03 pm #

    I ran into this problem a good few years back. The price of camcorders is significantly lower in Germany. I attempted to order one from to be told that it was one of a catagory of goods that they wouldn’t ship outside the jurisdiction.
    I complained to the European Commision Competition Directorate-it was a slow day- on the basis that I believed that this limitation on inter community trade had been forced on the company by the suppliers to protect their higher margins in other countries, an anti-competitive measure.
    Some 8 months later I received a response, where the Directorate asked me to show me the exact page I had a problem with. As that camcorder was gone, I couldn’t do that so my complaint died.
    It would still be uncompetitive, and seriously illegal under European law, if any such demand had been enforced.

  37. Justin Mason May 11, 2006 at 12:17 pm #

    btw, I just received an order from Pixmania, *2 days* after ordering it! brilliant service.
    Compare with the 14-day shipping time for my last Amazon order… that’s a major improvement.

  38. michele May 11, 2006 at 12:20 pm #

    Simon – Is the issue with the fact that the vendor has a presence in multiple jurisdictions or what exactly?
    Justin – Yeah they are excellent. I bought my camera from them a couple of months ago and got it within about 3 days

  39. Simon McGarr May 11, 2006 at 12:31 pm #

    Michele- The question would be the same as if I rang up a corner shop in Germany and asked them to supply a loaf of bread. They could decide not to ship it for their own reasons- that would be fine.
    But if they were constrained from providing a cross-border sales service by a distribution deal with their suppliers then that would be an illegal restraint of trade under EU law. And therefore under Irish law as well, of course.

  40. michele May 11, 2006 at 12:46 pm #

    Ah ha. That makes perfect sense. I can, as a vendor, choose not to sell to you, but if I was being restricted by my suppliers you’re saying it would be illegal.
    But what about dealer / reseller agreements? A lot of them are restricted to certain geographical areas.

  41. Simon McGarr May 11, 2006 at 12:50 pm #

    You can be restricted from active reselling outside your geographical area- you can’t chase sales with ads or travelling reps or the like. But you cannont be restricted from engaging in passive sales- if I approach you unprovoked.
    A website, other than when people came in through click-throughs potentially, is all passive sales, it could be argued.

  42. Celtictigger May 11, 2006 at 5:58 pm #

    My comment wound up being a post in itself… see it over at it will be up in a few minutes.
    IN the meantime, here’s some interesting reading….

  43. michele May 11, 2006 at 6:30 pm #

    Celtictigger – couple of things:
    my name is Michele with one “L” – I’m quite happy with my gender most of the time 🙂 is not run by Amazon or affiliated with Amazon in any way. (see for explanation) The site is programmed to pull in content from Amazon, calculate appoximate prices in Euro and then send you to Amazon to make the purchase with a percentage of the sale going to the site owner much as happens with any of the links I may have here to Amazon products.

  44. adam May 11, 2006 at 6:32 pm #

    That IDA article /is/ interesting. Did Jesus write it? 🙂

  45. Celtictigger May 11, 2006 at 6:44 pm #

    Michele – apologies for the finger flubs in my post.. ’twill be edited. The explanation of how works is interesting – I’m involved in a number of sites that use the Amazon Associates programme – this could have implications for them.
    Has anyone considered setting up a petition or summat to try and get Amazon to reverse what is obviously a well thought out policy 😉

  46. adam May 11, 2006 at 6:47 pm #

    Internet petitions aren’t worth a damn, and Internet users generally won’t bother their arse signing meatspace petitions. My advice is to email, phone and particularly write to complain to them about it. It’ll take five minutes out of your day. And of course blog about it, if you have a blog. (Not you, other people.)

  47. michele May 11, 2006 at 6:53 pm #

    Celtictigger – the silly thing is that you can still buy a lot of the pc games etc., from Amazon US.. so you could just change the affiliate ID 🙂
    I’d have to agree with Adam and I will be contacting Amazon to seek an explanation
    Blogging about it should help raise awareness, which may lead to it seeping into the traditional media etc.,
    Whether they change their policy or not is another matter, but I’d love to know what the likes of the IDA are thinking about this. “So Ireland is good enough for your call centres, but not good enough for your goods eh?”

  48. adam May 11, 2006 at 7:04 pm #

    Probably creaming themselves at the thought of having a “powerhouse” like Amazon on Oirish soil too much to worry about it Michele.
    Sure look at eBay and PayPal, it’s not as if they give much of a hoot about Irish customers (or any other ones for that matter, particularly when it comes to PayPal), despite the fact that we’d be an ideal testbed country. Nope, we get charged more, we get new technologies last, and we almost certainly get the worst customer service. The bigger they are, the less they care about customers.
    (Obviously this is why I’m still a small operator. It has nothing to do with the fact that I like spending my money on gadgets, environmentaly unfriendly vehicles, and other assorted leisure activities. :))

  49. Celtictigger May 11, 2006 at 7:07 pm #

    Michele – I suspect that the IDA doesn’t even know about it. Adam’s point about web petitions is well made. Awareness building in the blogsphere should (as you say) lead to traditional media picking up on the issue.
    I too will contact Amazon to seek an explanation. Hopefully there’ll be more than just 3 of us doing that!

  50. michele May 11, 2006 at 7:10 pm #

    I know what you mean 🙂
    I’m yet to come across a government official that actually understands ecommerce in the “real” world. Most of them seem to rely on their advisers, who in turn seem to be reading the press releases…
    Maybe I’m a wee bit cynical as well
    Regarding Paypal – I *did* get to speak to someone in Paypal Dublin a few months ago without having to wait for hours, but it took me ages to find the Dublin number in the first place (an 1850 or something)
    And don’t get me started on the gadgets.. I seem to have been on a spree of late!

  51. Celtictigger May 11, 2006 at 7:26 pm #

    Right then…
    Took a look on the Dept of Enterprise website. They had a very basic contact form which cried out to be filled in. Here’s what I wrote: have recently introduced restrictions on the delivery of goods to the Irish Republic. Details of this (and a good discussion on the topic) can be found at
    Could the Minister/Department comment on the fact that, despite locating a call centre and their Operations centre in Ireland, Amazon will not ship goods to the Irish Republic. Goods will be delivered to Northern Ireland.
    Amazon had historically sold electronic goods etc. to Ireland and had charged the correct VAT rate and a relevant shipping charge – is the Minister aware of anything that has changed in Law that would prevent Amazon from moving consumer goods freely across borders in the European Union?
    Don’t expect a response but it felt better than bitching into my coffee.;-)

  52. michele May 11, 2006 at 7:28 pm #

    Ohhhhh 🙂
    I wonder should someone bring it up on the EI list as well..

  53. Celtictigger May 11, 2006 at 7:42 pm #

    I looked at Amazon US to see if switching affiliates would work for the associates programmes I’m involved in.
    I took the example of the same presentation pointer gadget (I do a lot of powerpoint – these are useful).
    Here’s what Amazon US tells me:
    “Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. ”
    So now, for certain types of goods and services, us poor Irish residents can’t order from Amazon. Despite them basing a lot of their back office operations here.
    At this stage I’m starting to feel very discriminated against unless Amazon are launching an Irish site… … and in the very immediate future. (and if they are, launching the site and THEN changing the terms & conditions on Amazon UK would have been a much more customer friendly approach).
    There are words I’d like to use, but not in this polite company 😉

  54. michele May 11, 2006 at 7:45 pm #

    I think there have been shipping restrictions on a lot of the electronics goods with Amazon US for quite some time.. but I could be wrong

  55. Celtictigger May 11, 2006 at 7:50 pm #

    My point here is that Adam’s suggestion of using Amazon US for the affiliates programme may not actually be a solution for certain categories of product because of our geographical location.
    In that sense, Amazon are discriminating against us (and also the Isle of Man which would seem to be specifically excluded).
    And tweaking affiliate/associate program links isn’t a solution.
    Harrrrummmppppphhhhh ;-(

  56. michele May 11, 2006 at 7:51 pm #

    Sorry ! I think that was my idea so I feel responsible 🙁

  57. adam May 11, 2006 at 9:25 pm #

    “I think there have been shipping restrictions on a lot of the electronics goods with Amazon US for quite some time.. but I could be wrong”
    No, you’re right.

  58. Celtictigger May 12, 2006 at 1:19 pm #

    See for the incremental progress I’ve made.
    If anyone wants the email address that I’ve excised from the response I received, please post comment on

  59. Damien Mulley May 12, 2006 at 6:58 pm #

    So, we’re holding a protest at the opening of the new Amazon Cork offices?

  60. michele May 12, 2006 at 7:00 pm #

    A virtual protest is probably the best idea 🙂
    Anyone have the email address of amazon uk customer care? I went looking for it last night, but got bored and gave up…….

  61. Damien Mulley May 12, 2006 at 7:03 pm #

    That’s as good as an online petition.

  62. michele May 12, 2006 at 7:04 pm #

    Depends on how you do it 🙂

  63. michele May 16, 2006 at 1:16 am #

    Someone has provided a direct link to their contact form and other details finally:
    Freephone (only from within the UK): +44 800 279 6620
    Phone (outside the UK): +44 20 8636 9451
    Contact Amazon UK
    Found via

  64. michele May 16, 2006 at 2:26 am #

    I emailed Amazon UK earlier this evening and so far have not got a clear response, but what I have got could cause even more confusion…

    I will need to investigate this issue further.
    We will contact you again within a week with an update.
    Please note that this is happening due to a technical error on the
    site which we are aware of.

    Our technical team has already been made aware of this issue.

    (my emphasis)

  65. Celtictigger May 16, 2006 at 6:35 am #

    So perhaps my throw away comment that Amazon may simply have made a boo boo with their Information Quality and misplaced Ireland might actually be the case?

  66. adam May 16, 2006 at 7:27 am #

    I call bullsh*t. There’s no way a simple “technical error” would run that long on one of Amazon’s site, in the face of the complaints and negative publicity. “Technical errors” of that ilk just aren’t that hard to fix.

  67. michele May 16, 2006 at 8:16 am #

    Celtic – I find it highly implausible that a company like Amazon could make that kind of cockup.
    Adam – Let’s see what they come back with… Cos if they change their tune again it will become really amusing

  68. Celtictigger May 16, 2006 at 12:21 pm #

    re: Amazon and cockups, Amazon is the company that has, in the past, cancelled orders by accident, sold iPaqs for £7.32, and $1000 tvs for $4.00 and a number of other information quality errors that cost them dearly (at least in terms of publicity).
    Therefore it would not surprise me in the slightest if Amazon have cocked up regarding the base data that drives their shipping and handling processes.
    Here’s some links to info on Amazon boo boos.. (This also shows that Amazon can charge extra fees if needed)

  69. adam May 16, 2006 at 1:08 pm #

    That wasn’t the point Celtictigger. You don’t make mistakes?

  70. Celtictigger May 16, 2006 at 1:40 pm #

    I am not without fault in the mistake department, I’ll be the first to admit – and Michele has caught me on one already in this chain of posts. I am not expecting Amazon to be without fault either.
    My post simply responded to Michele’s comment that it is implausible that a company like Amazon would make a mistake of this nature. It does happen and it has happened to Amazon.
    By profession, I deal with issues of Information Quality on a daily basis and it is amazing what type of errors are made by companies of all sizes, as well as government organisations and individuals. Often it is not spotted because ‘technical’ checks don’t show a problem, but business rules in the technology are at odds with reality.
    It is equally likely that there are other root causes of this issue and that the ‘technical problems’ explanation is a smokescreen thrown up because they don’t know what is actually going on. From that point of view I fully expect them to change their tune.
    I note that Amazon’s terms should also preclude them from shipping these goods to the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, neither of whom have a WEEE type charge (to my knowledge) but neither of which are actually within Her Majesty’s United Kingdom of Great Britan and Northern Ireland.

  71. adam May 16, 2006 at 1:43 pm #

    Like I said, there’s no way a simple error would run for that long on Amazon’s website. The issue was reported to them more than a week ago, by several people from this thread alone.

  72. michele May 16, 2006 at 1:47 pm #

    All companies make mistakes. However a company like Amazon should be able to explain why this kind of change was made.
    If it was an error, which I doubt, then why has it taken them this long to rectify it?
    If it as an error why could they not have said so when we initially contacted them prior to me posting this entry?

  73. Gerard May 17, 2006 at 8:19 pm #

    Play’s EUR prices are quite bad, it’s always cheaper to order in GBP
    A DVD priced on Play at £10.99 is €17.99
    If you order in GBP, this £10.99 will become €16.34
    But if you chose to pay in EUR, the you are charged €17.99

  74. michele May 17, 2006 at 8:22 pm #

    Interesting. Could this be due to them setting some weird exchange rate or is there some other explanation?

  75. michele May 18, 2006 at 1:14 am #

    Got another reply from Amazon customer service. Judging by the blurb at the bottom of the email it doesn’t mean much:
    > > Date: Tue May 16 01:17:16 UTC 2006
    > > Subject; Follow-up created (Due on 05/23/2006)
    > > To:
    > > From:
    > >
    > > A new follow-up has been created (05/16/2006) that is due on
    05/23/2006. The reason for creating this follow-up is : A follow-up
    was automatically scheduled due to the use of the issue_looking_into

    At least they are being consistent about their excuses:
    Dear Customer
    Thank you for contacting us at with your concern.
    I apologise for the delay in responding to your e-mail message.
    Please be assured that all of us here are working very hard to
    provide a thorough, personal reply to each of our customers as
    quickly as possible.

    I’m sorry to hear about the system error you experienced that
    prevented you from ordering videogame from the site.
    We are aware of this issue, and our developers are working on a
    resolution. Often these errors are corrected after only a short
    time, so please try again shortly.

    The problem with scripted responses is that I’m beginning to recognise parts of them ……..

  76. adam May 18, 2006 at 1:20 am #

    Stick it into the Blacknight KB there Michele. 😉

  77. David May 19, 2006 at 8:10 am #

    Looks like you made 3rd result for “Amazon UK” on Google.

  78. michele May 19, 2006 at 3:12 pm #

    I’ve sent them another email:

    I have received two email replies from your customer service staff regarding my query on delivery policies to Ireland. So far I still have not received a clear answer. The second reply suggests that the issue is a known technical issue, so I ask, how come this issue suddenly appeared? Why is a delivery issue technical? I don’t see any technical aspect to it, unless it is a typo or otherwise, which you should have been able to resolve. If it is a simple technical issue, wny hasn’t it been resolved yet? If this change of policy is due to some other reason why can’t you simply tell me? Regards Michele

  79. michele May 19, 2006 at 4:42 pm #

    They’ve replied to me and have done a complete turnaround:

    We can confirm that, at present, we are unable to dispatch Electronics and Photo, Home and Garden, PC / Videogame and Toy items to addresses in the Republic of Ireland.
    Sales of these products are temporarily restricted as we work to comply with Irish recycling legislation. We hope to resolve this issue soon but unfortunately we are unable, at this stage, to provide a definite timescale.

    Since when does the WEE directive apply to that wide a range of goods? And why on earth would it apply to secondhand goods in the marketplace??

  80. Pádraig Brady May 19, 2006 at 5:07 pm #

    I said that 10 days ago (command #26).
    I guess amazon don’t have the facility at present
    to split good up depending on whether the WEE applied or not?

  81. Simon McGarr May 19, 2006 at 5:38 pm #

    Internal barriers to trade between member states is an issue the EU takes very seriously.
    This is an indirect example of such a barrier, by the sounds of it.
    I seem to recall that the Italian government lost a case where they levied a nominal sum per tonne on trafffic coming into the state, so that they could keep track of the size of verhicles for ‘statsictical reasons’.
    Even the minor amount of money they took was read as a toll, and struck down.

  82. michele May 19, 2006 at 6:21 pm #

    Padraig – You may have said it, but my main issue was that I hadn’t been told as much officially by anyone
    Simon – I’m not sure about the legal aspects, but when it comes to commerce we tend to vote with our feet (or more precisely our wallets)
    The last reply I got from them this afternoon is below:

    We are always working to serve our international customers better.
    However, as policy, we do not comment on any possible expansion plans.
    I sympathize with your frustration in this matter. However, please
    understand that the information provided in our last message
    correctly represents our policy at this time.
    As my colleague previously mentioned, at present, we are unable to
    dispatch Electronics and Photo, Home and Garden, PC / Videogame and
    Toy items to addresses in the Republic of Ireland.
    Sales of these products are temporarily restricted as we work to
    comply with Irish recycling legislation. We hope to resolve this
    issue soon but unfortunately we are unable, at this stage, to provide
    a definite timescale.

    I didn’t mention anything about expansions, so I don’t know where that came out of …

  83. adam May 19, 2006 at 6:26 pm #

    Interesting. Although it could be something as simple as them pasting a stock reply into your message instead of someone elses (like me), that asked if they were thinking of moving into the Irish market. They’re obviously using monkeys to do the scut work in support anyway. They can afford the typewriters.

  84. michele May 19, 2006 at 6:28 pm #

    I know they use stock replies for their customer support system, but you would think that they’d actually bother to check what the status of an issue or policy was before replying. For a company that trades almost entirely online where the majority of the interactions with the clientele is going to be email based you can’t afford to get it wrong that often.

  85. adam May 19, 2006 at 6:41 pm #

    You’re preaching to the converted Michele. Now if only we could train clients in the same way: Please check you’re doing it right, please use email for support, please check you’re doing it right again, please check I haven’t answered your question already, please check you’re doing it right once more for luck, then again, then ask me via email, but before you do just check there again.
    You know, instead of calling on that phone thing to ask for one of their user’s passwords, or to spell out an obscure hex Outlook error message at me, with freakish phoentics plucked from the objects on their desk (“yeah, I have the password ECHO, LIGHTER, SPEAKER, EIGHT, ENVELOPE…”)? The world would be a better place without customers, as long as they continued to pay their bills, obviously.
    BTW, anyone know where I can order a stock of choke chains?

  86. Paulo Vicente May 20, 2006 at 12:46 pm #

    Hello everyone, I’ve got some information that you will find interesting.
    Amazon UK stoped shiping games to other european countries.
    They just stoped, without an explanation or anything like it on their site.
    One day I went to their site and every game had “This item can only be delivered within the UK” on it’s page.
    And I’m not the only one with this issue, as you can see here, it looks like they decided to just drop european customers but they don’t have the guts to be honest about it. Some people tried to e-mail them and got some canned replies about errors and technical problems. This has been going on for almost 2 weeks now.
    And their help page still reads:
    PC & Video Games, Toys & Games and Gift items
    * Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).
    So there you go, they will ship games outside the UK, except for those marked “This item can only be delivered within the UK”, wich happen to be… all of them!

  87. michele May 20, 2006 at 12:48 pm #

    Thanks for the information.
    Which country are you in?

  88. Paulo Vicente May 20, 2006 at 2:36 pm #

    I’m in Portugal , and I noticed something:
    On your post you wrote:
    For some really odd reason they’ve changed their terms of service regarding deliveries.
    PC & Video Games, Toys & Games and Gift items
    * United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) only.
    But now, if you go to their help pages you will get this:
    PC & Video Games, Toys & Games and Gift items
    * Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).
    It looks like they were being honest about their new policy when you wrote your post but somehow decided to backpedal and claim that they will ship to several countries, even if they won’t actually deliver what they promised.
    And it looks like Ireland will be cut off definetly, notice how the new policy only mentions “Northern Ireland”. Well, at least they are being honest with your situation…

  89. Paul Browne May 20, 2006 at 4:33 pm #

    Now that Ikea is opening in Ireland, perhaps the guys from Glasgow how drive your Ikea shopping home for you, could start up a new business delivering Amazon products?!

  90. john fitzgerald May 20, 2006 at 9:36 pm #

    I took this up with Amazon today. I used their telephone contact service and they called me by return.
    The reason they gave was the shipping charge from Ireland back to Uk for returned items was so expensive that it wasnt worth their while.
    They are also now charging 21% VAT. They told me that the Irish government made this request.
    Anybody know other reliable suppliers in UK of electronic equipment camers etc?

  91. michele May 21, 2006 at 5:03 pm #

    John – Pixmania are excellent.
    The shipping charge excuse sounds a bit fishy. A hardback novel weighs more than a software cd-rom….
    Paul – There could be an opening alright, but in the meantime I’ll be drawing up a list of alternatives…

  92. Jim Goss May 23, 2006 at 11:01 am #

    I know the answer and not surprised!
    Last November I ordered a Canon digital camera from Amazon UK as a Christmas present. A week after I ordered it I got notification from Amazon that they have made a mistake and may have delivered 2 cameras to me.
    In the meantime they said that they have pre-authorised my credit card by the amount of the second camera and in the event that it turns up would I be so kind as return it to them. As you can imagine I went bezerk, They were taking my credit limit without my autorisation. I rang my bank and asked them to remove the authorisation and since the amount hasn’t been taken (just pre-approved) they couldn’t do it. How long have Amazon UK got a hold on this pre-authorisation ? SIX YEARS was the answer that I got from BoI.
    A week later the second camera was left on my doorstep when I came home one Saturday, no signing or anything. What would happen if someone stole it off my doorstep ? Posted the camera back distusted and they paid postage. Will not be doing business with them again.

  93. Paul Browne May 23, 2006 at 11:55 am #

    I had a similar experience with a major Irish computer company (guess who). Unfortuately it was a part that I could only get from them, so I didn’t have the choice of going elsewhere.
    Paul ,

  94. michele May 24, 2006 at 1:27 am #

    Jim – what if you requested a new CC?

  95. Damien May 24, 2006 at 10:28 am #

    The reason have amended this Ireland shipment policy is because they are launching the .eu site soon – which will manage the entire EU country base. the uk one is therefore being restricted to Uk customer base only.
    I used to be a prolific user of, (and still have a Belfast address to which I can ship) but have now found it to be simply too expensive. and for music/media/video (cdwow is cheaper that Play , but slower, as HongKong is further than Jersey)
    for electronic/computer goods it is hard to beat the Norwegians at
    Pixmania aren’t too bad for camera stuff and for ipod stuff

  96. michele May 24, 2006 at 10:41 am #

    Do you have proof of this or is it purely anecdotal?

  97. adam May 24, 2006 at 10:49 am #

    Whether or which, it doesn’t excuse their woeful handling of this issue. It’s not rocket science:
    1. Start new service.
    2. Restrict old service.

  98. Finbar Walsh May 25, 2006 at 5:56 pm #

    I use for electronics

  99. Jim May 25, 2006 at 8:34 pm #

    Even If I requested a new CC I think the pre-authorisation is still intact for the 6 years! A new CC will not help in this case. I think the only valid thing would be to cancel my CC arangement with BoI which I am considering at the moment.

  100. Greg May 27, 2006 at 8:03 am #

    Amazon have made the following statement to “Sales of these products are temporarily restricted as we work to comply with Irish recycling legislation. We hope to resolve this issue soon but unfortunately we are unable, at this stage, to provide a definite timescale.” After spending thousands over the years, they could have at least told us.

  101. michele May 27, 2006 at 2:44 pm #

    Greg –
    that’s the same wording as they used in one of their last replies to me

  102. adam May 28, 2006 at 2:40 am #

    Looks like WEEE is the stock answer now. I haven’t bought anything off them since this idiocy started, and given their lack of respect for and understanding of their customers, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to again. I can live without music, or rather I’ll live /with/ ALLOFMP3; there’s plenty of electronic webtailers out there; and I have enough DVDs to keep me going for a while. All I’m short is a good place for books. Happy as I’d be to buy local, Irish book retailers should be wearing masks, so does anyone have any recommendations?

  103. michele May 28, 2006 at 1:27 pm #

    I still don’t see how WEEE can have any impact on PC games, as they aren’t even covered by the directive. Sounds like a real fudge on their part, though at least they are being consistent.
    I have got some very good bargains from eBay in the past. I am yet to find an Irish online bookstore that was cheap enough, once you factor in delivery, to beat a highstreet equivalent

  104. Chris May 30, 2006 at 9:58 pm # are excellent for books now, they have a huge selection on all topics; well worth giving them a look.
    As regards the Amazon debacle, this SUCKS! but it seems they have reduced their PP charges for CD’s to Ireland.

  105. michele Jun 14, 2006 at 7:53 pm #

    I actually checked the list of products covered by the WEEE directive. It does not refer to software anywhere:
    Either Amazon are nuts or they simply don’t want to sell to Irish consumers any more ………

  106. adam Jun 14, 2006 at 8:01 pm #

    I think we all know they’re not nuts. They obviously have a good reason for it, but while they continue to try to bullshit us about it, I’ll continue buying my stuff elsewhere — two books in Douglas Books last week, €25; two flash drives from the US yesterday, €50. Screw ’em.

  107. DjD Aug 4, 2006 at 2:35 pm #

    non-shipping goods include flexible muffin moulds (the cooking sort) ceratinly not covered by WEEE!

  108. michele Aug 15, 2006 at 12:24 pm #

    They seem to have moved the goalposts again… Their shipping page now has the following:
    “Books, Music, DVD and Video items
    * most countries in the world. Please note that customers in the US and Canada may be restricted to one copy of certain book titles because multiple copies may infringe US copyright laws.
    * Marketplace: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), and the United States (including US protectorates).
    Software, PC & Video Games, Toys & Games and Gift items
    * and Marketplace: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).
    Magazine subscriptions
    * United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).
    Electronics & Photo and Home & Garden items
    * United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) and Republic of Ireland.
    Certain items from our Electronics & Photo store cannot be delivered to the Republic of Ireland. See each item’s product information page for any specific delivery restrictions.
    * Marketplace: United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) only.
    Mobile phones
    * United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).”
    BUT when I tried to pre-order a pc game I got rejected again!!
    I’ve contacted their customer (dis)service again, so am waiting to see what they come back with this time ….

  109. Liam Dec 3, 2006 at 9:44 pm #

    As of December it now seems that aren’t shipping any DVDs to Ireland. I just tried to order some gifts and all were refused the text on the checkout page stating:
    This item can only be delivered to a UK address.
    What’s going on?

  110. michele Dec 3, 2006 at 11:03 pm #

    That’s odd. I just ordered a DVD without any issue

  111. Liam Dec 4, 2006 at 9:51 am #

    That was just me being a idiot. Ihaven’t shopped at play for a while and had forgotten that they’ve stopped allowing Eurozone customers to buy in sterling. Once I switched the currency to Euros it was OK again. In the meantime i had found the same product much cheaper elsewhere.
    These sites are great for getting the best prices:
    Sendit, Blah and Filmnight all ship free to Ireland.
    Direct4Games charge shipping but usually come out the cheapest.

  112. Laura Apr 5, 2007 at 11:27 pm #

    After years of buying online from the US and UK I have found that over the last 2 to 3 years the goalposts have shrunken hugely, initially due to Revenues clampdown (some of it exceedingly unfair – while I accept the need to pay import duty on goods I don’t see why I should also pay it on carraige and a “collection fee” also – seems to me to be a triple taxation whizz to deter people from importing in the first place), but more recently I’ve noticed that shops that sold via mail order for years to Ireland (example being the Hawkshead store in the Lake District), suddenly have stopped shipping to Ireland entirely.
    I suspect that the rapidity with which shipping charges for bulkier goods is a large part of this reason. The strange thing is that it is nearly once again reaching a point where it may be cheaper (if very slow) to import from the US for items below the import duty threshold than to bring from the UK.
    Its not just electrical goods – I’m noticing it with bulkier items in general.

  113. Rob Apr 24, 2007 at 4:59 pm #

    Why not get on to your MEPs about it?
    Here’s a full list:

  114. Simon Dance Aug 9, 2007 at 6:41 pm #

    In response to Michelle comment, you might also like to check out our website which compares lots of smaller CD and DVD retailers and not just the big boys, to ensure you get the best price.
    Thanks again,

  115. Ralpharama Aug 22, 2007 at 11:15 am #

    I’d advise just shopping elsewhere. Amazon seem to have been slipping, delivery-wise and customer service-wise for some time now. I used to be an ardent fan, but now won’t use them any more. My last experience with them here if you are interested:

  116. Liam Aug 22, 2007 at 11:28 am #

    Amazon UK’s shipping prices are ridiculous too. My last order with them was for 2 books priced at £6.24 and £5.99 – the shipping charge to Ireland for this was £5.97!!! That’s the cost of another book. €8.78 approx for shipping – what the hell is that about!

  117. michele Aug 22, 2007 at 11:31 am #

    How much did you save on the books’ price though?

  118. Liam Aug 22, 2007 at 12:01 pm #

    Good point Michele. Well I worked it out approximately. The total cost of my Amazon order for 2 books including P&P was £18.20 which at todays rate is approx €27.00. So we can say that each book cost me €13.50
    I checked Easons website ( I don’t know if their online prices are the same as their instore prices but assuming that they are)
    Book 01
    Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut (Paperback)
    Easons: €12.15
    Book 02
    Glass Soup – Jonathan Carroll
    Easons: Not available but most other paperbacks by this author are priced at €10.42
    So the conclusion (and it has it’s assumptions and approximations) is that buying from Amazon cost me a fiver more than buying in a local book store!
    The moral of the story is buy your books from!!! Average paperback prices are €8.49 – €9.49 with free delivery.

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