Claims on www.amazon.co.uk, for their membership programme, stated "Get your stuff fast Unlimited FREE One-Day Delivery on all eligible orders". Claims on the right of the page stated "Try Amazon Prime FREE for one month: Unlimited Free One-Day Delivery ... After your free trial, Amazon Prime is just £49/year".
The complainant, who understood that membership of Amazon Prime required the payment of an annual subscription, challenged whether the description of the one-day delivery as "FREE" was misleading.
Amazon EU Sarl (Amazon) explained that Amazon Prime (Prime) was a membership programme that provided a number of benefits to its members and the clearly indicated cost of becoming a member was £49 per annum. They said one of those benefits was that one-day delivery to a Prime member was free whereas it would usually cost between £3.95 and £7.99. Expedited delivery and first class delivery were also free to members and express delivery and evening delivery were offered at less than half the price charged to non-member customers.
Amazon believed their use of the word "FREE" to describe one-day delivery in the context of the claim "Get your stuff fast Unlimited FREE One-Day Delivery on all eligible orders" provided clarity to the customer regarding what benefits they would get for their £49 annual expenditure and specifically the difference between those benefits Prime conferred for no extra charge and those elements that were offered at a discount. With that information a customer could decide whether Prime membership made sense for them, given the number of purchases they made each year.
Amazon said, once a customer was a member of Prime, they could rest assured that all their eligible one-day deliveries were free of charge. Amazon believed that omitting the word "free" from the messaging would lead to more confusion for the customer, who would be left wondering whether there would be any charge payable for the one-day delivery, or indeed any other of Prime's services.
Amazon said they did not believe that the wording of the claim breached the Code because it contained no false or untruthful information nor was there any on the page. They said, since the cost of Prime membership was clearly shown as being £49, the presentation of the information was not likely to deceive the average consumer or lead them to take a transactional decision they would not have taken otherwise.
The CAP Code stated that marketers must not describe an element of a package as free if that element was included in the package price. We understood that Prime was a paid-for service which cost £49 per year and that, for that payment, members could then make use of the one-day delivery service, on selected items, for no further charge. Although we understood Amazon's intention was to make clear that the one-day delivery could be used without charge after subscription, because members had to pay £49 before they could use the service we considered that the claim that one day delivery was "free" was misleading.
The claim breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.25 3.25 Marketers must not describe an element of a package as "free" if that element is included in the package price unless consumers are likely to regard it as an additional benefit because it has recently been added to the package without increasing its price. (Free).
The claim must not appear again in its current form. We told Amazon not to describe Prime one-day delivery as free.