Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated of which one was Upheld and one was Not Upheld.
A TV ad and website for Oak Furniture Land:
a. The TV ad included a voice-over which stated, "Thinking of refreshing your home this Easter? Think the Oak Furniture Land Easter sale. This solid oak extendable dining set is an incredible £799 - and if you order now it could be delivered free in just seven days."
b. The website, www.oakfurnitureland.co.uk, included a web page for an "Alto Solid Oak Nest of Tables" which included text that stated "Free Delivery" and "Dispatched Within: 7 Days".
The complainant, who believed that the claims related to the time within which the product was dispatched to the carrier rather than to the customer, challenged whether the following claims were misleading:
1. "could be delivered free in just seven days" in ad (a); and
2. "Dispatched Within: 7 Days" in ad (b).
1. & 2. JB Global Ltd t/a Oak Furniture Land (Oak Furniture Land) said all their products carried different lead times in terms of dispatch and delivery and that these times were clearly stated in their advertising and were specific to the products advertised. They said it was the case that the product in ad (a) could be delivered in seven days. The product in ad (b) had a different lead time and was therefore advertised as "dispatched" within seven days, rather than "delivered". They said they appreciated that the different delivery timescales for their products might be potentially misleading for consumers and they therefore no longer referred to delivery times in their TV ads. They said if they did decide to refer to delivery times in any future TV ads they would ensure the message to consumers was clear. They said that in their online advertising they did clearly state the differences in delivery times for each specific product.
They provided the order report for the solid oak dining set referred to in ad (a) which they said demonstrated the product could be delivered in just seven days. They said that over 54% of orders for the item in the relevant period were delivered within seven days, and some in as little as two days. They said that in cases of longer delivery times this may have been because customers preferred a different delivery date. They also provided the stock report for the item in the relevant period which they said showed they had a large number of the items in stock.
They also provided a summary of their 'lead times' for their entire stock for the period 25 March to 1 April which they said demonstrated that over 80% of their products could be dispatched and delivered within seven days. They highlighted the Alto Solid Oak Nest of Tables which had a 'lead time' of seven days. They said they were unable to provide actual delivery data for the item during that week because none were ordered.
JB Global further submitted that they did not believe the claim in ad (b) was misleading or would be misunderstood by consumers. They said that the use of the word “dispatch” to mean dispatched to the carrier was in line with practice within the logistics industry. They did not believe that consumers would expect “dispatch” to mean dispatched on the final limb of delivery to the consumer. They said the “delivery by” date given during the ordering process was included as a disclaimer to avoid liability in case of delivery delays.
Clearcast said they had considered the claim "if you order now it could be delivered free in just seven days" before clearing the ad. They said the advertiser provided them with a letter, of which they provided a copy, that stated that since December 2012, 82.6% of their stock was available for delivery within 7 days. They did not believe the ad was likely to mislead consumers regarding delivery times.
1. Not upheld
The complainant believed the claim "could be delivered free in just seven days" related to the time within which the product was dispatched to the carrier rather than to the customer. The ASA understood that the claim was in fact intended to refer to the time within which the product was delivered to the customer. The claim related to the delivery of a "solid oak extendable dining set" and we did not consider the ad implied that all the company's products could be delivered within the seven-day timeframe. We also considered that the claim made clear that, although the product could be delivered within seven days, this would not necessarily be the case for all customers. The evidence provided by Oak Furniture Land demonstrated that they had sufficient stock levels to meet demand and that over 50% of orders were delivered within seven days in the relevant period, and all were delivered within 13 days at the most. We therefore concluded the claim was not misleading.
On this point we considered ad (a) under BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Advertisements must not mislead consumers 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 consumers need in context to make informed decisions about whether or how to buy a product or service. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead consumers depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the advertisement is constrained by time or space, the measures that the advertiser takes to make that information available to consumers by other means. (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is 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) but did not find it in breach.
We understood that the dispatch time stated in ad (b) related to the timeframe within which the product would be dispatched to the carrier, rather than delivered to the customer. However, we considered the claim implied the product would be dispatched to the customer within seven days, and received shortly afterwards. The complainant said that when they tried to order the product they were given an anticipated delivery time of three weeks from ordering. Information on a separate page on the Oak Furniture Land website stated that their usual method of delivery was to first dispatch the product to their carrier, who would then contact the customer with a specific delivery date, and that this process could take up to ten working days, with actual delivery taking up to 21 days from the dispatch date. Although Oak Furniture Land said the product had a 'lead time' of seven days they had not provided evidence of the actual time within which the product was delivered, and we also noted that the maximum delivery time given during the online ordering process was 21 days from ordering. We therefore concluded the claim was misleading.
On this point ad (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Advertisements 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 9.2.4 (Distance selling).
Ads (b) must not appear again in its current form. We told Oak Furniture Land to ensure that references to delivery or dispatch times did not mislead.