ASA Adjudication on Damartex UK Ltd
Damartex UK Ltd t/a
Bowling Green Mills
3 January 2007
Brochure, Direct mail
Number of complaints:
The cover of a direct mail brochure, for Damart, stated "Discover true casual chic in your beautiful Reversible Rain Jacket. And it's absolutely FREE!" Inside it said "this superb Reversible Rain Jacket is exclusively yours, with our compliments! Yes, as a Privileged Customer you are entitled to this magnificent jacket! Quality style and elegance are guaranteed, and what's more, your jacket will see you through season after season, thanks to its chic design. Your FREE GIFT has been designed to provide comfort, protection and endurance against the elements. So, don't hesitate for a second: claim your FREE GIFT by ordering within 14 days! A SUPERB FREE GIFT for you! absolutely [sic] FREE!". The back page of the brochure gave details of how to order the gift and included small text at the bottom of the page which stated "FREE GIFT CONDITIONS. Due to unforeseen demand and circumstances beyond our control, stocks of some gifts may run out from time to time. We shall do our best to supply the gift in question as soon as new stocks arrive. However, we also reserve the right to supply an alternative gift if necessary".
A customer complained that, when her free gift arrived, the reversible rain jacket had been replaced with two hand towels. She questioned whether Damart had sufficient stock to meet demand and whether the substitute gift was of equal value.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
Damart explained that the reversible jacket offer had been sent to only a small number of customers. They said the offer had been a "gift test", used in order to judge possible demand if it was extended to all customers at some future date. They said the number of reversible jackets available was based on the amount used in a previous "gift test", which had also been for a jacket. They said when it became clear that demand for the offer was exceeding their initial forecast they tried to obtain further supplies, but realised that it would take up to 16 weeks before they could dispatch the gifts to customers. They said they therefore decided to send customers an alternative gift, which they believed was of comparable quality and cost. They supplied us with invoices to show that the towels they sent in place of the jacket were of equal or greater value.
Damart also pointed out that the brochure included a warning that an alternative gift might be sent if stocks ran out.
The ASA considered Damart had made a reasonable estimate of the anticipated demand for the reversible jacket, based on a previous gift test for a similar style coat. We noted that, when it became clear that demand was exceeding expectations, they had attempted to obtain more stock and, when this was not possible, they had supplied an alternative gift of equal or greater value. Although we did not accept that a disclaimer to the effect that an alternative gift might be sent relieved the promoters of the obligation to take all reasonable steps to avoid disappointing consumers, we concluded that the brochure had not been in breach of the Code.
We investigated the brochure under CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 6.1 (Honesty), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 30.1, 30.2, 30.3, 30.4 (Availability) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)