ASA Ruling on VistaPrint BV
5928 LW Venlo
11 January 2017
Internet (on own site)
Number of complaints:
A sponsored listing for VistaPrint, a printing company, seen on 25 August 2016, stated “1,000 flyers for only £13.99”.
The complainant, who had been unable to find 1,000 flyers at the stated price on the advertiser’s website, challenged whether the ad was misleading and could be substantiated.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
VistaPrint BV said that, at the time the ad was seen, the price for 1,000 flyers started at £13.99, exclusive of VAT. They provided screenshots of the different steps of the order process. This included the landing page that they said would have been accessed after clicking on the ad, which stated “1,000 start at £19.99 £13.99 (ex. VAT)”. The ad stated “Low, Flat Rate Delivery”, and VistaPrint believed that this made clear that the standard delivery costs were not included. They said that all other non-optional fees and charges, including for different customisation options and delivery, were included as default in the order process. They stated that before the customer placed their order, they were provided with an outline of the product costs, shipping and VAT (if applicable). They therefore believed that all non-optional costs had been made sufficiently clear. They believed they had demonstrated that 1,000 flyers were available at the cost of £13.99 and therefore that the ad was not misleading.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim “1,000 flyers for only £13.99” to mean that the quantity of 1,000 flyers was available to purchase at that price. We noted that the screenshot of the landing page provided by VistaPrint stated “1,000 start at £19.99 £13.99 (ex. VAT). However, we noted that the complainant had been unable to find 1,000 flyers at this price, either with or without VAT, when they clicked through from the ad, and neither had the ASA. We also noted that the response provided by the advertiser indicated that £13.99 was the starting price for 1,000 flyers, as there were different sizes available and some customisation options would increase the price further. We therefore considered that the ad should have made clear that £13.99 was a “from” price.
That notwithstanding, we had not seen evidence to demonstrate that 1,000 flyers had actually been available to purchase at this price. Furthermore, we noted that quoted prices must include non-optional taxes, fees and charges that apply to all or most buyers, including VAT. The price in the ad did not include VAT, and we did not consider that the ad clearly addressed only those who did not pay VAT. Because the ad did not make clear that the advertised price was a “from” price, and because the same price statement did not include all non-optional charges, and had in any case not been substantiated, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1, 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.17 and 3.18 (Prices).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told VistaPrint BV to ensure that they held sufficient evidence to substantiate their price statements and that these included all non-optional taxes, fees and charges, including VAT. They should also ensure that they make clear if price statements refer to “from” prices.