Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Martin Kenny TD, has raised the issues faced by unsuspecting consumers when purchasing goods online, which are coming from outside the EU.
As part of a question he posed to the Taoiseach, Teachta Kenny suggested more stringent regulation was required when businesses register their website domains within Ireland.
The Sligo-Leitrim TD said:
“Over the last few months, I have noticed an increase in my constituents reporting issues they are having with hidden fees being attached to their online shopping.
“This is more so the case from websites where the items from outside the EU, or purchases that are transiting through Britain.
“They purchased the items through reputable websites, many with the .ie domain, and are led to believe that the purchase and shipping price is the only cost they will incur.
“When they are about to receive the items, there is a huge charge placed on the order and the items are either held up in customs or somewhere else.
“If they refuse to get the goods, they lose everything.
“It is a lose-lose situation for the consumer who made a purchase in good faith.
“We must protect consumers from this situation and, ultimately, put a stop to it. Ordinary people are spending their hard earned money on these .ie websites, many believing that the items they are buying are coming from a company or brand within the state.
“Only when the customs notice arrives to their home do they find out that the item originated outside the state, and most of the time outside the EU.
“There is a need for increased regulation over websites registered with a .ie domain if we really want to prevent this type of underhanded price-gouging from continuing.
“Currently, the regulations state that a website with a .ie domain must be registered in Ireland. However, that is not to say that the company itself is based here.
“That needs to change without further delay.
“The Taoiseach, and the different departments involved, can tell consumers this is as a result of Brexit. But this excuse is of little use to someone who is faced with spending almost twice what they had budgeted for in order to buy an item that was advertised at a much, much lower cost.”