Business development · 4 April 2018

Four “misleading” Amazon adverts banned by watchdog

The Amazon toothbrush advert claimed that Amazon was selling the product for £84.99 compared to an RRP of £270.

Four Amazon adverts have been banned and labelled as “misleading” by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Last July the online retail giant, Amazon, promoted a range of items with savings of £300 on their recommended retail prices (RRP) during a series of TV adverts.

The watchdog suggested that the Amazon adverts had displayed a much higher and false sense of the product’s RRPs next to its own “deal price”.

Commenting on this, an ASA spokesperson, said: “We told Amazon to ensure that future references to RRPs reflected the price at which the products concerned were generally sold, and to ensure that they held adequate evidence to substantiate their savings claims.

“The ads must not appear again in their current form.”

The products included an LG Ultra HD TV, a Viewsonic gaming monitor, an MSI laptop and a Philips Sonicare.

Amazon said it had checked the RRPs were the same as those on third-party websites as sold by third-party sellers on Amazon Marketplace.

However, it added that the prices for the run of TV adds, each of which received a single complaint from the public, were “made in error”.

Read more: Ten top tips to keep your advertising copy legal

An Amazon spokesman said: “Our customers come to Amazon and expect to find low prices and incredible deals, and we work hard to provide both all year long.”

The ASA gave Amazon a sharp telling off, stating customers would understand an RRP to mean that it was the price an item is usually sold for.

The ASA found that the gaming monitor, marketed on Amazon for £193 with an RRP of £752, was sold at an increased sum for six weeks, then a lower price for two, before leaping back to a higher price for two days and dropping back to a lower price for 16 days.

Amazon responded stating that £752 was not actually the broader RRP but the price which it was selling the product at on its promotional “prime day” for non-prime consumers.

To determine the average selling price for the laptop, Amazon claimed it has referred to prices from camelcamelcamel.com – the Amazon price tracker. It was sold by Amazon for £699 against an RRP of £999.

However, the ASA concluded this date was based on only three Amazon marketplace sellers offering the product and no sales had been available on Amazon in the previous months.

Also, The LG TV ad stated the product usually sold for an RRP of £599, and that Amazon’s deal price was £379.

Amazon apologised for the mis-stated RRP in this case, saying that an “error occurred” when they checked other retailers’ sites.

Amazon added that it was working on a solution to avoid making the same mistake in future.


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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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