Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, of which one was Not upheld and two were Upheld.
A website and an email for parcel delivery comparison company Parcel2Go:
a. The website www.parcel2go.com, seen on 4 October and 12 November 2019, stated “Send from Only £2.39 (£1.99 plus VAT) with Smart Send” on the home page. Additionally, the search results page stated “Results: 27 kg … Under a metre ... Qty: 1” at the top, while a tab further down the page stated We’ve found 3 services … Two Day From £9.49” when consumers searched for services that would take 27kg packages under one metre in length.
b. The email, received on 11 December 2019, featured the word “Trustpilot” at the bottom followed by an image of five green stars. Underneath that were two consumer testimonials.
The ASA received three complaints:
1. One complainant, who understood the minimum price available for the Smart Send service was £2.05 plus VAT, challenged whether the claim “from … £1.99 plus VAT” in ad (a) was misleading.
2. One complainant, who was quoted more than £9.49 for a package that was within the length and weight restrictions, challenged whether the claim “We've found 3 services … Two Day From £9.49” in ad (a) was misleading.
3. One complainant, who understood that Parcel2Go’s rating on Trustpilot was 4 stars, challenged whether the use of the image with five stars in ad (b) was misleading.
1. Parcel2Go.com Ltd said the Smart Send service was priced at £1.99 excluding VAT across all platforms served – including eBay, Etsy, and Amazon. They provided evidence showing the Smart Send process and cost.
2. Parcel2Go said in addition to the length and weight restrictions there was a restriction on volumetric weight, which was calculated by adding the length of an item to its girth. Girth was calculated by adding the weight of an item to its height and then multiplying the total by two.
3. Parcel2Go said the logo used in the email was an old, composite logo for Trustpilot that featured five stars underneath it. They confirmed their email signature would be amended to feature an updated Trustpilot logo that did not feature five stars underneath it.
1. Not upheld
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the statement “Send from Only £2.39 (£1.99 plus VAT) with Smart Send” to mean they could send items using Parcel2Go’s Smart Send service at a minimum price of £2.39. We noted Smart Send was a service that could be used by sellers on third-party e-commerce platforms. The evidence provided by Parcel2Go showed the lowest cost to sellers of using Smart Send was £2.39, and that was the same for all platforms.
We therefore considered that the claim was unlikely to mislead. On that point we investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.17 3.17 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product featured in the marketing communication. (Prices), but did not find it in breach.
We considered that consumers would understand from the text at the top of the search results page and the tab labelled “Two Day From £9.49” that they could purchase a two-day delivery service for an item under one metre in length, weighing 27 kg, at a minimum price of £9.49. We noted the home page of Parcel2Go’s mobile website featured a box into which consumers could enter the weight of the item they wanted to send. Next to that was another box labelled “Parcel Length: Under 1 Metre” that, when selected, displayed three boxes into which consumers could enter the item’s length, height, and width. No reference to “girth” or how it might be calculated was made in that section. If consumers chose to enter only the item’s weight with no dimensions, they were presented with a listings for various courier services. We noted each listing featured an icon depicting the letter “i” in a circle. When clicked, that opened a window detailing the relevant courier’s dimension and weight restrictions. We noted those restrictions made reference to “Maximum Length + Girth”, but did not state how “girth” could be calculated. We also noted it was possible for consumers to select a courier service and enter an item’s dimensions without being notified of the girth requirement, so consumers could enter values of under one metre for each dimension but still have a package that exceeded that restriction, making the minimum price of £9.49 unavailable. Additionally, we considered consumers could select the £9.49 service before entering their package’s dimensions, only to find their package exceeded the “Length + Girth” restriction. For those reasons, we concluded the claim “from £9.49” in ad (a) was misleading.
On that point ad (a) 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).
We considered that consumers were likely to interpret the word “Trustpilot” followed by five green stars and two positive consumer testimonials to mean Parcel2Go held a rating of five stars out of five on the Trustpilot business rating platform. We noted Trustpilot was a website that allowed consumers to review businesses and give them ratings out of five stars. We also noted Parcel2Go held a rating of four stars out of five on Trustpilot’s website at the time the complainant saw the email. We welcomed Parcel2Go’s assurance they would remove the logo featuring five green stars and replace it with a newer version of Trustpilot’s logo featuring no stars. However, we considered the logo and quotes taken together would give the impression Parcel2Go held a five star rating when they did not.
We therefore concluded the ad was misleading. On that point ad (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising).
The ads must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Parcel2Go Ltd to ensure their future marketing communications did not omit information relating to parcel restrictions from listings. We also told then to ensure they did not use information or ratings from third parties in a way that was likely to mislead consumers about their current rating.