Summary of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, of which both were Upheld.

Ad description

Claims on, an online site for formal dresses, stated "URDRESS.CO.UK is a UK based retailer offering exciting beautifully designed, excellent quality fashion and accessories for women and children ... Urdress belongs to EdressesGlobal UK Co. Ltd ...".

The website included a number of listings which featured a photograph of the dress as well as a price.  Claims on the FAQs page of the website stated "... 13. Is there a charge for sales tax?  There is no charge for sales tax on all orders ... 15. What's the price shown on your website?  The price on our website is just retail price, does not include the delivery cost.  You can view our delivery page to know more information about delivery cost."

The website also included listings for dresses, all of which were accompanied by a photograph and a price.


The complainant challenged whether:

1. the claim "URDRESS is a UK based retailer" was misleading and could be substantiated because her dress was shipped from Hong Kong; and

2. the website was misleading because it failed to make clear that consumers would be held liable for customs charges/import fees for a delivery to Ireland.


SeaMaple (HK) Ltd (SeaMaple) did not respond to the ASA enquiries.


1. Upheld

The ASA was concerned by SeaMaple (HK) Ltd'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 respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.

We considered the claim "URDRESS.CO.UK is a UK based retailer" implied that they had a presence in the UK, e.g. by having retail premises or business offices in the UK.  Their website stated that they had no overheads such as physical stores in the UK which meant they were able to offer low prices to their customers. Furthermore, the complainant's order had been shipped from Hong Kong and the only address listed on the website to allow consumers to write to them was based in Hong Kong.  In the absence of a response from SeaMaple, we concluded they were not based in the UK and therefore, the claim had not been substantiated and was misleading.

On this point, the claim breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules  3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.  (Misleading advertising) and  3.7 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).

2. Upheld

We understood from the complainant that because she lived in Ireland and her dress had been shipped from Hong Kong, she was required to pay customs charges to receive her order.  The website made clear that a delivery charge of £15 was automatically applied to all orders, save for those over £150 which benefited from free delivery.  However, we considered it should have been clear that custom charges might apply and that cost was excluded from the purchase price. Furthermore, we considered that should have provided customers with details of the circumstances under which those customs charges would be incurred and how those charges would be calculated.  Because the website did not include any of that information and in the absence of a response from SeaMaple on that point, we concluded the website was misleading.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules  3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.  and  3.3 3.3 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  3.19 3.19 If a tax, duty, fee or charge cannot be calculated in advance, for example, because it depends on the consumer's circumstances, the marketing communication must make clear that it is excluded from the advertised price and state how it is calculated.  (Prices).


The claims must not appear again in their current form.  We told SeaMaple (HK) Ltd not to claim they were a UK based retailer when that was not the case and to state that customs charges may apply, when that was likely to be the case and provide information as to how those charges would be calculated.  We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team

CAP Code (Edition 12)

3.1     3.19     3.3     3.7    

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