Amazon’s European Handcuffs recently ceased shipping electronic goods to Ireland. There is a discussion of this in the comments of Michele Neylon’s post Amazon UK Shift the Goalposts.

From my comments there.

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 category of goods that they wouldn’t ship outside the jurisdiction.

I complained to the European Commission 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.

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.

Michele asks about distribution agreements, which often purport to restrict sales to a certain geographical area.
I say:

You can be restricted from active reselling outside your geographical area- you can’t chase sales with ads or traveling reps or the like. But you cannot 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.

As can be seen from the comments, are reluctant to reveal what the cause of their change of policy was.

Without knowing more about the detail of their particular decisions, we can’t really say any more than that. But we can say that in general, a supplier who restricted a retailer from shipping to another part of the EU market for goods, in order to engage in price setting, would find themselves in very hot water. And any retailer who went along with these restrictions would need to be able to answer questions with very good answers to avoid punishment.

If you go to’s website today and try to buy some of their low priced digital goodies you will still be told:

Dieser Artikel kann leider nicht an den von Ihnen gewünschten Ort versandt werden.

Or: Bum off, stinky Irisher bargain hunter.

Who benefits from this? Hardly Amazon- a sale is a sale, after all. But the suppliers of digital goodies certainly do- it allows them to continue to offer German consumers cheaper goods without risking the higher priced sales they can make elsewhere.


  • EWI says:

    Damn them – there goes my source of cheap(er) games for the Mac, and probably soon other Mac software too.

  • […] Amazon UK have changed their terms of services regarding delivering certain types of goods to Ireland. PC & Video Games, Toys & Games and Electronics & Photo and Home & Garden items all seem to be affected. Michele Neylon started the discussion over at his blog about the issue a few days ago and there is a huge amount of discussion about it now. Almost as worrying as the decision itself is the inability of those commenting to get a straight answer out of Amazon itself as to why they have chosen to do this. Read the full discussion at Michele Neylon’s blog. Also, there are follow up posts at here and at DOB-Blog here. posters noticed the restrictions on games shipping back at the end of April and have experienced the same brick wall when contacting Amazon about it. It’s pointed out a few times that do free delivery to Ireland. Click here for that thread. Thanks for the heads-up Simon.     Send this post to a friend […]

  • […] In other news, have turned all mean. I’ve never really liked shopping there as we never get any postage discounts, but every now and then I’d be willing to fork out the extra dosh for something. Only now they’re starting to reduce what they’ll let us buy, as Michele Neylon points out Games, Electronics, and Gift items will no longer be shipped to the Republic. Which is odd, don’t you think. Still, I prefer Play anyway. They have free shipping and have a pretty good selection of stock. The discussion on Amazon can also be found on DOB-blog and Tuppenceworth, where the legal aspects are also being discussed

  • celtictigger says:

    Here’s an update on dob-blog. Persons wanting details of the email address etc. that I have removed, please post a comment on dob-blog requesting it.

  • Mark Regan says:

    Amazon just sent me a Advertising e-mail with loads of games on it at special prices. I sent them a smart e-mail asking them why they are teasing me with games they wont let me buy.

    They replied very very quickly with what appears to be a auto generated response:

    We can confirm that, we are unable to dispatch Electronic Electrical
    Equipment to addresses in the Republic of Ireland.

    Sales of these products are restricted as a result of the Irish
    Governments’ implementation of EU Electrical Waste Recycling
    legislation and the difficulties caused by their interpretation of
    the pricing obligations imposed on Distance Sellers such as

    A PC Game is just a game, not a piece of Electronic Electrical Equipment. So, still no straight answer from Amazon and I don’t think we’ll get one any time soon.

  • […] have a pretty good selection of stock. The discussion on Amazon can also be found on DOB-blog and Tuppenceworth, where the legal aspects are also being discussed var blogTool = “WordPress”; var blogURL = […]

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