Amazon UK users may have difficulties after a no-deal Brexit

Online retailer warns British businesses of risk to cross-border trade

Online retailer  has developed an English language version of its German-based website with some of the prices on that site proving to be cheaper than on the UK site. File photograph: Reuters

Online retailer has developed an English language version of its German-based website with some of the prices on that site proving to be cheaper than on the UK site. File photograph: Reuters

 

Irish consumers may encounter difficulties buying some products sold on the amazon.co.uk platform in the aftermath of a no-deal Brexit, the online retailing giant has warned.

According to reports in the UK today, British businesses who trade on Amazon. co.uk are being encouraged to take significant steps in preparation for no deal if they want to continue selling to customers in the EU, including the Republic.

The online retailing giant warned that no deal “may temporarily prevent cross-border trade”.

The letter from Amazon said sellers should consider sending stock to European “fulfilment centres” or warehouse as stock currently in the UK may not be able to be sold to EU countries including Ireland.

It gives them until St Patrick’s Day to have inventory in place at EU fulfilment centres and says they should have “the standard recommended minimum of four weeks of inventory coverage at all times”.

Irrespective of what amazon sellers do, shopping online with UK based retailers is likely to be more problematic after a no-deal Brexit. With the UK out of the EU, Irish shoppers could be faced with hefty import duties and VAT because the UK will be what is known as “third country” and for the purposes of tax will be in the same category as the US or China.

Last summer, the chairman of the Revenue Commissioners, Niall Cody, told an Oireachtas committee that Brexit would have such an impact on online shopping from the UK that “the model will not make sense”.

He said that post-Brexit “if an Irish shopper then buys online from a UK-based business it will be exactly the same as if he or she were buying from a US-based business”.

There will be options and the US giant has developed an English language version of its German-based www.amazon.de website with some of the prices on that site proving to be cheaper than on the UK site.

While prices may climb and availability may be a problem when it comes to UK-based retailers, consumer protections may also suffer.

As it stands, consumers here have significant protections under EU law when shopping online within the EU. Under the rules, consumers have a cooling-off period of 14 days and the right to a refund for delayed or non-delivery as well as the right to redress in case of faulty goods.

But if the UK leaves the EU with no deal in place, retailers there won’t be covered by EU law, which means that these rules may no longer apply.