Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.
An eBay listing for Europa Depot, seen in July 2018, for an unlocked SAMSUNG Galaxy S4 smartphone, included text stating “All our SAMSUNG smartphones are 100% BRAND NEW… Although the manufacturer warranty has expired, we offer a 100% hassle-free 1 year seller warranty for all our units. The warranty covers any form of defect or workmanship error. Unlike most other resellers, we do not repair returned items (if any). We choose to exchange it with a brand new unit instead for your piece of mind.” In a list on the left side of the page titled “WHY BUY FROM US!” the text stated “Legit UK business seller”, “Friendly, Prompt & Reliable Service” and “Email Customer Support”. Below that a picture of a woman wearing headphones was featured, alongside text stating “7 Days a Week”.
The complainant, who had purchased the product, challenged the following claims:
1. “1 year seller warranty for all our units” was misleading, because they had contacted the advertiser due to a fault but had not received a replacement;
2. “Friendly, Prompt & Reliable Service” and “7 days a week” were misleading, because they had contacted the seller but received no response; and
3. “Legit UK business seller” was misleading, because they understood the advertiser was based in Malaysia.
1. 2. & 3. GAN EU GIN VLOGISTICS SDN BHD t/a Europa Depot did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Europa Depot’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
1., 2. & 3. Upheld
We considered consumers would understand the claim “1 year seller warranty for all our units” to mean that the advertised product was protected with a one year warranty, and a refund or replacement would be issued if the device was faulty. We also considered the claims “Friendly, Prompt & Reliable Service” and “7 days a week”, in conjunction with the image of a woman with a headset and the claim “Email Customer Support”, would be interpreted to mean that Europa Depot provided a customer support service with staff who responded to queries within a reasonable timeframe, and who were available via email or telephone every day. We considered the claim “Legit UK business seller” implied the advertiser was registered and based in the UK.
The complainant had attempted to contact Europa Depot through eBay to report that their device was faulty, but had received no response. In the absence of a response from Europa Depot, we had not seen any substantiation in support of the claims, or an explanation of the basis of those claims. For those reasons we concluded that the claims were misleading and had not been substantiated, and that the ad breached the Code.
The ad 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), 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), 3.54 3.54 Marketing communications must make clear each significant limitation to an advertised guarantee (of the type that has implications for a consumer's rights). Marketers must supply the full terms before the consumer is committed to taking up the guarantee. and 3.55 3.55 Marketers must promptly refund consumers who make valid claims under an advertised money-back guarantee. (Guarantees and after-sales service).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Europa Depot they must not misleadingly imply that they offered a one-year seller warranty for smartphones, or a customer support service who were contactable, or imply they were registered and based in the UK, if that was not the case. We referred the matter to CAP's Compliance team.