A website, www.top-battery.co.uk, for a company that offered laptop batteries for sale, included the logo of Royal Mail at the top of the website and text that stated "Fast Shipping". Further text on the "Payment and Shipping" page stated "Our shipping cost listed on this website only cover Continental United Kingdom. Customers in other countries, please feel free to email [email protected] ... We ship to United Kingdom and Ireland. Customers from the other European countries, please contact us for postage".
The complainant challenged whether the website was misleading, because it gave the impression that the advertiser was based in the UK when he understood they were based in China.
Top-battery.co.uk did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Top-battery.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 respond promptly to our enquiries and we told them to do so in future.
We considered that in addition to the lack of any information that the company was based in China, various aspects of the website, including its references to the Royal Mail, the listing of prices in pounds sterling, the short delivery times stated on the website, and the website URL www.top-battery.co.uk, implied that the company was a UK-based company. Because we understood that the company was based in China, we concluded the ad breached the Code.
The ad 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. 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 and 3.4.5 (Misleading advertising) and 9.1 (Distance selling).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Top-battery.co.uk to ensure their advertising did not misleadingly imply that the company was based in the UK, and that it made clear their identity and geographical address. We referred the matter to CAP's Compliance team.