Summary of Council decision:
One issue investigated and Upheld.
A website selling shoes, www.wilfredandalice.co.uk, featured a drop-down bar at the top of the page which allowed consumers to select their preferred currency from a list that began with "GB Pound".
The complainant challenged whether the website was misleading, because it gave the impression that the advertiser was based in the UK when they understood that the products were shipped from China.
Person(s) unknown t/a wilfredandalice.co.uk did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA noted that the website was registered to a named individual. We contacted the individual via the postal address to which the website was registered, in addition to using the contact form on the website. We were informed that the individual was no longer at that address but that our correspondence had been passed to them. We requested direct contact details for the registrant, but these were not provided. We were concerned by wilfredandalice.co.uk’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We noted that the website address used a “.co.uk” domain name and presented prices in pounds sterling. No information was provided regarding the geographical address from which they operated. We considered that consumers were likely to understand that the advertiser was based in the UK. However, we noted that after the complainant placed an order, payment was taken by a company based in China, including additional fees for exchange rate and transfer. We concluded that the ad misleadingly implied that the advertiser was based in the UK and therefore breached the Code.
The ad breached (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. and 3.4.2 3.4.2 the identity (for example, a trading name) and geographical address of the marketer and any other trader on whose behalf the marketer is acting (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Person(s) unknown t/a wilfredandalice.co.uk to ensure their advertising did not misleadingly imply that they were based in the UK and to make sufficiently clear the geographical address from which they operated. We referred the matter to CAP's Compliance team.