A website for mobile phones, www.mobiles.co.uk, seen in November 2018, featured text which stated "APPLE iPhone XR £36.00 P/M OH MY ... Free Handset 100GB Data Cyber Monday".
Four complainants, who had attempted to purchase the item but were later told their order could not be processed, challenged whether the promotion breached the Code.
The Carphone Warehouse Ltd t/a Mobiles.co.uk said that unfortunately, due to the high volume of orders created by the deal, there was a backlog in processing credit checks, which caused system issues that resulted in some customers failing a credit check in error even if they had a good credit score.
Mobiles.co.uk said that if a customer contacted them as a result of a failed credit check, they contacted the network provider and asked them to re-run the check. Checks that passed that stage resulted in an order being processed whereas customers who did not pass the check had their order cancelled.
Mobiles.co.uk said they worked with the network provider to resolve the issues experienced and gave a statement to the press and provided an email address for customers who had been impacted, which resulted in many previously declined transactions converting to a sale. They provided a screen shot of the home page of their website during the promotional period, which explained that due to exceptional demand for our Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers, next day delivery orders were being delayed and that their team were working hard to clear the backlog.
The CAP Code stated that if promoters relied on being able to meet the estimated response but were unable to supply demand for a promotional offer because of an unexpectedly high response or some other anticipated factor outside their control, they must ensure relevant timely communication with applicants and consumers and, in cases of any likely detriment, offer a refund or a reasonable substitute product.
The ASA noted Mobiles.co.uk’s attempts to make customers aware of the issue. However, the press statements were released after the promotional period, and we had been provided with no evidence of information that customers had been notified during the period itself. In addition, they made no attempt to notify individually customers whose transactions had been declined. Those customers who had not been aware of the press statement would not have known to contact Mobiles.co.uk to re-run their credit check in an attempt to convert their declined transaction to a sale. In addition, while the information provided on the home page notified customers of delivery delays due to exceptional demand, we did not consider that to be relevant to the issue at hand, because customers were not made aware that there was a likelihood the order could not be processed.
In light of the above, we considered that Mobiles.co.uk should have made it clear on the website itself that problems were affecting transactions as soon as they were aware of these and to have contacted those whose transactions had been declined to alert them to the underlying issue of problems with the credit checks. Because Mobiles.co.uk did not ensure relevant timely communication with applicants and consumers under the circumstances, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 8.1 8.1 Promoters are responsible for all aspects and all stages of their promotions. (Promotional marketing) and 8.11 8.11 If promoters rely on being able to meet the estimated response but are unable to supply demand for a promotional offer because of an unexpectedly high response or some other unanticipated factor outside their control, they must ensure relevant timely communication with applicants and consumers and, in cases of any likely detriment, offer a refund or a reasonable substitute product. (Availability).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Carphone Warehouse Ltd t/a Mobiles.co.uk to ensure that if they were unable to supply demand for a promotional offer because of an unexpectedly high response or some other unanticipated factor outside of their control, they must ensure relevant timely communication with applicants.