Background

Misleading Advertising:  herdress.co.uk is in breach of the UK Advertising Standards Code for quoting prices exclusive of non-optional taxes, duties, fees and charges and for not making clear that they are based outside of the UK. 

The ASA investigated the website www.herdress.co.uk in relation to price claims that were quoted exclusive of VAT and whether it was clear that the advertiser was based outside of the UK.  The ASA concluded that VAT inclusive prices should have been quoted given the website was aimed at UK consumers and the advertiser should not imply that they were based in the UK.    

The CAP Compliance team contacted herdress.co.uk but the advertiser did not respond to requests to comply with the Code and the ruling.  Because of the continued non-compliance of herdress.co.uk, we took the decision to place its details on this section of the ASA website on 8 June 2017. These details shall remain in place until such time as herdress.co.uk has amended its website to ensure compliance with the CAP Code.

Summary of ASA ruling

A website for an online clothing retailer, www.herdress.co.uk, seen in January 2017, included a listing for "A-Line/Princess Bateau Long Sleeves Lace Chiffon Court Train Dresses" priced at £84.50.

The ASA challenged whether the ad was misleading because the complainant was charged an additional £33.02 in tax, duties and charges after paying for an item and whether the website was clear that the advertiser was based outside the UK.

herdress.co.uk did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.

The ASA understood that the complainant only discovered the cost of VAT and other charges after they purchased the item, but before it was delivered. It considered that consumers would expect quoted prices to include all non-optional taxes, duties, fees and charges that applied to all or most buyers, provided those costs could be calculated in advance.

The ASA understood that the products were shipped from outside the EU, but considered that the website was clearly addressed to UK consumers.  It considered that the VAT on goods entering the UK could have been calculated in advance and should have been included in the advertised price.

The ASA noted that the website URL ended in ".co.uk".  It also noted that the pricing of herdress.co.uk's products was in British Pounds Sterling and that, on the "Contact Us" page of the website, its billing address was in the UK. The website also stated at the bottom of every page that it was copyrighted from 2012-2017 as "Her Dress UK Online Store".

However, there was no information on the website about the manufacturing or operational location of the business. The only information that suggested the business was based overseas was in its "Terms and Conditions" page where it made reference to the "Hong Kong International Arbitration Center" in relation to settling customer service disputes.

The ASA considered that the overall impression of the website was that herdress.co.uk was a UK-based business. Because it understood that was not the case, it concluded the ad was misleading.

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