‘Misleading’ Amazon adverts banned - 9th April 2018

Here at SW&A we like to keep a close eye on issues related to online shopping so were interested to read that four Amazon adverts for electronic devices have been banned for “misleading” customers over potential savings.

The adverts, which all date from July last year, highlighted savings of up to £300 compared with recommended retail prices (RRPs) but the Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints that the RRPs were misleading.

The online giant admitted one advert was an “error” but said the other RRPs were in line with listings on other sites.

The adverts referred to savings of £220 on an LG smart TV, £193 on a ViewSonic monitor, £300 on an MSI laptop and £185 on a Philips electronic toothbrush – each listing received one complaint.

Amazon said the saving for the TV had been calculated incorrectly but countered that the RRPs used in the other three adverts were similar to prices displayed by sellers on its own Marketplace or other retail websites.

However, the ASA said that consumers would understand the reference to an RRP to mean that the advertised product was generally sold at the stated price across the market.

It checked the prices that the monitor - listed with an RRP of £752 but available for £559 - had been sold at over the previous six weeks. They found it had been sold at the higher price for nine days, at a lower price for 14 days, at the higher price for two days and then the lower price for 16 days. Phew – sounds like an episode of Play Your Cards Right!

The ASA said the fluctuations did not demonstrate that Amazon usually sold the product at the higher price of £752 and that inconsistencies were found in the RRPs for the other products.

An ASA statement read: “We told Amazon to ensure that future references to RRPs reflected the price at which the products concerned were generally sold and to ensure that they held adequate evidence to substantiate their savings claims.”

Three cheers for the eagle-eyed shoppers who flagged up the four adverts to the ASA and we can only echo the advice from consumer organisation Which? to always look at the price, not the ‘saving’ – whether you’re buying online or in store.

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