ASA Adjudication on Argos Ltd
489-499 Avebury Boulevard
Saxon Great West
Central Milton Keynes
8 August 2007
Number of complaints:
An ad for the Samsung SM940MW TV, in the Argos catalogue, displayed the "HD ready" logo.
The complainant, whose Blu-Ray machine did not work with the TV, challenged whether the use of the "HD ready" logo was misleading, because he believed the TV did not support High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection System (HDCP), which was one of the requirements for using the logo.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
Argos tested the SM940MW TV as a result of the complaint and discovered that it could not play Blu-Ray devices. They were unsure why that was the case but said they would address the problem: they would apply a till bulletin to their system, which would be read out at the pre-contractual stage, advising customers that the item was not compatible with Blu-Ray DVD Players or PlayStation 3 games consoles. They said they would also add an oversticker to the catalogue text and the in-store browsers and would ensure future catalogues made the issue clear.
Argos contacted Samsung about the matter. Samsung admitted there was potential for SM940MW TVs produced before July 2006 to have poor HD connectivity; they asserted that the fault was caused by a procedure during the assembly process being missed. Samsung argued that the TV supported HDCP and could still be described as HD ready. At the ASAs request, Argos asked Samsung for documentary evidence to show that the TV supported HDCP and was permitted to use the "HD ready" logo under the guidelines set by the European Information, Communications and Consumer Electronics Technology Industry Associations (EICTA), the organisation that operated the "HD ready" specification, but received no response.
Argos commissioned an independent test company to run tests on the TV. The first test, which was carried out before Samsung had explained the problem with the pre-July 2006 models, stated that, when tested with a Blu-Ray player, the TV had shown pictures in standard definition (SD) only. However, when connected to a Sky digital HD receiver, the TV showed pictures in HD. The first test concluded that it was possible that HDCP had not been implemented in the TV or, if it had been implemented, the firmware had not been configured correctly. The test also noted the TVs screen aspect ratio was 15:9, a computer widescreen standard, and not 16:9, the broadcast widescreen standard. The testing company believed one of the EICTA requirements for "HD ready" items was a 16:9 screen aspect ratio and, therefore, the TV might not comply with the requirements for the "HD ready" logo.
The second test stated the post-July 2006 TVs were able to show HD pictures from a Playstation 3 and one brand of HD-DVD machine but still showed pictures from one brand of Blu-Ray machine in SD; Samsung had been present at the test and believed the problem was specific to that brand of Blu-Ray machine.
The ASA noted the tests commissioned by Argos as a result of the complaint showed SM940MW TVs made before July 2006 were not compatible with Blu-Ray machines or PlayStation 3 machines but, once they were aware of that, Argos and Samsung had taken steps to make the problem clear to customers. We noted the tests also showed versions of the TV made post-July 2006 were able to play PlayStation 3 machines and one brand of HD-DVD machine; however, at least one brand of Blu-Ray machine was in SD only. We noted TVs had to fulfil several conditions to use the "HD ready" logo, one of which was that they must support HDCP; we noted compatibility with a Blu-Ray machine was not a condition for use of the logo. However, we were concerned that the testing company had suggested that the screen aspect of the TV could mean it did not comply with the requirements for the "HD ready" logo. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, and because the testing dealt only with the PlayStation 3 and one HD-DVD machine, we considered that the evidence we had seen was not sufficient to show that the TV supported HDCP or that it was permitted to use the "HD ready" logo. We concluded that it was not acceptable to use the "HD ready" logo with the SM940MW TV.
The ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).
We told Argos to remove the "HD ready" logo from ads for the SM940MW TV unless they held robust substantiation to support the claim.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)