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ASA finds add to be in breach of CAP

Written by Michael Coyle on 03 February 2009

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What is wrong with the following ad?

A national press ad, for a marquise ring, was headed "STRICTLY LIMITED TO ONE PER CUSTOMER, WHILE STOCKS LAST! FREE Ring All you pay for is the postage!"

Below, it stated "Inspired by the glamour of Monte Carlo, the Riviera Cubic Zirconia Marquise Ring is sure to impress, and is yours for FREE ... THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY to acquire finely crafted jewellery. Why not send for your FREE ring today? You are never under any obligation ... but in one glance, you are sure to fall under the spell of the Monte Carlo Collection. AS THIS IS SUCH A SPECIAL OFFER, stocks will be high in demand so place your order today to avoid disappointment". Small print on the order form stated "

I will only be charged 3.95 postage and packing, irrespective of any other order placed with Kaleidoscope. Accepting this ring gives me the option to examine matching jewellery in the Monte Carlo Collection. I have no obligation to purchase anything now or in the future ... For each piece I decide to keep, I will pay only 29.99 plus 3.95 postage and packing. All charges for this programme (including the initial 3.95) will appear on my Kaleidoscope Personal Account ... The FREE ring is mine to keep, whether or not I decide whether to examine additional pieces in the collection ... When we accept your order a Kaleidoscope account will be set up so you have the option of paying off the account in full or spreading your payments.

Full details will be sent with your order ... Typical APR29.9% variable. We require your correct postcode for the Personal Account option. Credit subject to status. We search the files of credit references agencies who record the search and we share information about you and the conduct of your account with them, with other lenders and relevant third parties ... By ordering from us, you are consenting to us sharing your information with other organisations and to us or them contacting you for marketing purposes by mail, telephone, email or otherwise. If you do not wish to be contacted by us by telephone for marketing purposes please tick this box. If you do not wish to be contacted by other organisations for marketing purposes, please tick this box".

This ad was reported to the Advertising Standards Agency. The Ad was questioned as the smallprint was too small to be easily legible, and the availability of the ring was as limited as the ad suggested. In addition the ASA challenged whether the description of the ring as "free" ie consumers had to pay for packing; the information that a credit account would be set up for respondents was prominent enough; and the data protection information complied with the CAP Code.

This ad was reported to the Advertising Standards Agency. The Ad was questioned as the smallprint was too small to be easily legible, and the availability of the ring was as limited as the ad suggested. In addition the ASA challenged whether the description of the ring as "free" ie consumers had to pay for packing; the information that a credit account would be set up for respondents was prominent enough; and the data protection information complied with the CAP Code.

The ASA reported as follows

The terms and conditions were not sufficiently prominent to ensure consumers would have a full understanding of the offer. The ad therefore breached CAP Code clause 7.1 (Truthfulness)

ASA noted the advertiser stated that the charge was their standard delivery charge. However, ASA reminded them that an offer should be described as free only if consumers paid no more than the true cost of freight or delivery, such as the current public rate of postage. ASA concluded that the description of the ring as "free" was misleading. The ad breached CAP Code clause 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 32.5 (free offers and free trials).

Data Protection. ASA reminded the advertiser that the explicit consent of consumers was required before disclosing their personal details to third parties for direct marketing purposes. Because the small print stated that, by responding to the ring promotion, consumers were consenting to the advertiser sharing their information with other organisations who might contact them for direct marketing purposes, it concluded that the ad breached CAP Code clauses 43.4c and 43.5 (Database practice).

If you'd like to know more about this article please send an email to Unknown quoting the article title and any questions you might have, alternatively call the office number on 02380 235 979 or send an enquiry through our contact form.

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