The ASA (Adverting Standards Authority) has banned an ad for the Amazon prime service. The ban comes after the ASA received 280+ complaints from customers claiming they didn’t receive their packages within 24 hours as the Amazon’s one-day delivery ad had claimed. The ad in question – placed on Amazon UK’s homepage clearly stated that customers would get unlimited 1-day delivery with Amazon Prime. However, information explaining that the delivery timeline was subject to the time an order was placed as well as whether the product bought was in stock was placed elsewhere on Amazon UK’s website. The ASA concluded that ad wasn’t clear to customers and banned it.
Amazon has a paid membership service which offers next-day deliveries for free at a fee (£7.99 monthly or £79 yearly). The ASA commenced investigations into the ad following a rise in claims from prime customers who reported late deliveries. Approximately 40% of all prime members get their parcels late (more than a day after ordering) according to Citizens Advice Bureau.
The ASA’s review found the ad in breach of the Advertising Practice code rules 3.1, 3.7 and 3.9 for misleading advertising, lack of documentary evidence that ad claims were true and failure to qualify their 1-day delivery claim, respectively.
According to the ASA, the ad should not be displayed in its current form again, and Amazon makes it evident that a huge portion of their prime products don’t qualify for next-day delivery going forward.
Amazon Vs. ASA
Amazon’s advertising strategies have been criticized before by the ASA. Early 2018, Amazon was under investigation for other misleading ads. The ASA found four Amazon ads for electrical products misleading. The ads featured misleading savings claims and recommended retail prices. The ads promoted a laptop, TV, gaming monitor and an electric toothbrush. The watchdog received complaints that the ads were unverified and unsubstantiated.
According to Amazon, the recommended retail prices published matched the prices displayed by 3rd party sites and internet sellers on the retailer’s marketplace site. Amazon defended the ads by stating the TV ad was “made in error” and the prices for the electric toothbrush and gaming monitor were precise averages at the time the ad was published. Amazon also claimed that the retail prices of its products fluctuate constantly.
However, the watchdog refuted Amazon’s claims stating that price fluctuations didn’t demonstrate the fact that Amazon usually sold the gaming monitor in question at a higher price (£752.00). ASA also found Amazon guilty of providing insufficient data to support their RRP claims that products were usually sold at the stated price.
According to the ASA, Amazon must ensure future RRP references reflect the price at which products in question are generally sold. Amazon must also ensure they offer enough evidence to back their savings claims.
Amazon has stated that their 1-day delivery service has terms and conditions clearly stated on their website. The terms and conditions explain that the 1-day delivery is subject to the item purchased (whether it is in stock) as well as the time of the day you order.
The ASA is of a contrary opinion. According to the watchdog, the ads were likely to mislead customers into thinking the 1-day delivery applies to every prime- labeled product. The ASA also found it unlikely that Amazon’s customers would find and read the terms and conditions information suggesting otherwise before paying for the Amazon Prime service.
According to the ASA ruling, customers were likely to assume they would receive their orders for prime-labeled items in 24 hours as long as they didn’t order for Sunday delivery or place orders too late. Considering most prime-labeled items weren’t available for next-day delivery, the ASA concluded that Amazon’s ad was misleading.
Amazon’s spokesperson has been on record stating that an overwhelming majority of items eligible for one-day delivery arrive as promised and only a small portion of orders have been delayed in the past. One of the reasons behind the delays experienced last year include; bad weather which impacted carriers across Britain hindering their ability to meet the one-day delivery claim during the Christmas period. Amazon has also claimed that they show an expected delivery date before orders are placed, and most importantly, the retailer works relentlessly to meet the expected delivery date.