A website selling laptop batteries, www.uk-battery-shop.co.uk, listed products in pounds sterling and featured on its home web page a box headed "Shipping Method" which included the Royal Mail logo and text which stated "All orders are shipped by Royal Mail unless otherwise stated". The website included a number of web pages which gave information about the company, shipping and delivery, orders and payments, its return policy and its customer service provision. A web page headed "About Us" included text which stated "All queries or issues can be answered online or by our specialist team of UK based advisors ...". A web page headed "Shipping and Handing[sic]" featured the Royal Mail logo and text which stated "Items will be shipped by Royal Mail ... We ship to United Kingdom and Ireland. Customers from other countries, please contact us for postage. The shipping cost for each order is £4.99". A web page headed "Delivery Time" stated "... Normally, the post takes 3 to 5 business days to delivery[sic] parcel to our customers, depending on the destination ... Our Delivery and Service Charges listed on the website only cover England". On a web page headed "Return & Refund", text stated "Purchases made at UK-battery-shop.co.uk are covered by a 60-days (from the date products were ordered) return policy. ... All returns must be sent back within 7 days of receipt of the item ... We will only refund shipping cost if the item is returned by First Class Mail".
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.
UK-battery-shop.co.uk did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by UK-battery-shop.co.uk's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (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 reference to "UK based advisors", the listing of prices in pounds sterling, the short delivery times stated on the website, and the website URL www.UK-battery-shop.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 3.4.5 the arrangements for payment, delivery, performance or complaint handling, if those differ from the arrangements that consumers are likely to reasonably expect (Misleading advertising) and 9.1 (Distance selling).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told UK-battery-shop.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.