A website, www.ur-mobile.com, offered a "EA6400 VIDEO ENTHUSIAST" router for sale at the price of £120.06, discounted from £126.38. Text stated "5 in stock".
The complainant challenged whether the claim "5 in stock" was misleading and could be substantiated, because the item was not in stock.
Compare UR Mobile Ltd t/a UR-Mobile said they used an automated system to update stock levels which were stated on their own website and other 'marketplace' websites through which they sold products. They said those stock levels were updated every hour to ensure the stated levels were accurate.
UR-Mobile said it appeared that the item the complainant had attempted to purchase went in and out of stock very quickly over the few days when he had been attempting to purchase the product; it appeared that the customer was unfortunate that his orders could not be fulfilled. UR-Mobile said the product had many shipments over a short period of time and they had not been updated by the manufacturer regularly as to when the shipments would be coming in.
The ASA understood from the complainant that he had ordered the product from UR-Mobile twice; on the first occasion through a third-party website and on the second from UR-Mobile's own website. On both occasions he was later informed the product was not in stock despite the websites indicating at the time of ordering that the product was in stock. When the complainant was informed that the product was no longer in stock on the second occasion, he checked UR-Mobile's website and saw that it stated there were five in stock.
We asked UR-Mobile to provide documentary evidence to support their assertion that the stock levels stated on their website were accurate, and that the product in question had been in and out of stock a number of times over the period during which the complainant attempted to purchase it, but UR-Mobile did not provide such information. In the absence of evidence to substantiate that the product was in stock as claimed at the time the complainant ordered it, we concluded the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), 3.27 3.27 Marketers must make a reasonable estimate of demand for advertised products. 3.28 3.28 Marketing communications that quote a price for a featured product must state any reasonable grounds the marketer has for believing that it might not be able to supply the advertised (or an equivalent) product at the advertised price within a reasonable period and in reasonable quantities. In particular: 3.28.1 3.28.1 if estimated demand exceeds supply, marketing communications must make clear that stock is limited 3.28.2 3.28.2 if the marketer does not intend to fulfil orders, for example, because the purpose of the marketing communication is to assess potential demand, the marketing communication must make that clear and 3.29 3.29 Marketers must monitor stocks. If a product becomes unavailable, marketers must, whenever possible, withdraw or amend marketing communications that feature that product. (Availability), and 8.9 8.9 Phrases such as “subject to availability” do not relieve promoters of their obligation to do everything reasonable to avoid disappointing participants. (Sales Promotions - Availability).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told UR-Mobile not to advertise that a product was in stock if they did not have the information to substantiate the claim.