The website www.wippy.com offered a variety of goods at low prices on an auction basis.
A complainant challenged whether the website made it sufficiently clear that, in applying for the goods obtained via the auction, customers were signing up to a paid membership.
Wippy.com (Wippy) said the notification that customers were signing up to a paid membership was featured throughout the registration, payment and confirmation of transaction process, and was also stated in their terms and conditions. They supplied screenshots of payment pages which they believed demonstrated that customers were given information about membership and the fee charged for it.
The complainant believed the only reference to the payment of a membership fee was in terms and conditions which customers needed to view on a separate page. The screenshots Wippy had supplied demonstrated that information about the membership fee was given to customers during the transaction process, but not until the point at which they paid for their item. The payment page listed the price of the item, the delivery charge and then "7 days Membership* £0.00". The asterisk was linked to small text further down the page which stated "Included with this payment is a 7-day free Gold Membership. The normal monthly fee of £34.99 is charged 7 days after this purchase. The promotional gift item is only applicable if a minimum of one month membership fee is paid". We considered that was a significant condition of the offer which customers needed to be aware of at the outset so that they could make an informed decision as to whether to proceed further. Because the website did not make it clear to customers at the outset that, in applying for the goods obtained via the auction, they were signing up to a paid membership, we concluded that it was misleading and in breach of the Code.
The website breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. and 3.10 3.10 Qualifications must be presented clearly.
CAP has published a Help Note on Claims that Require Qualification. (Qualification).
The website must not appear again in its current form. We told Wippy to ensure significant conditions were stated and presented clearly in future.