The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has fined Argos for a “misleading” online advertisement.
To encourage attempted purchases, the advertisement suggested limited availability of some out of stock products.
Last year, Argos failed to confirm online reports about the availability of the sought-after Xbox Series X 1TB console.
Statements like “last purchased one minute ago” and “selling fast!” were challenged by two complainants. bought 24 times since your last visit.”
They also claimed that no product was available for collection or delivery in any of the locations are chosen.
The ASA demanded that the Sainsbury’s-owned company prove that the advertisements were not misleading and were not intended to encourage attempted purchases.
Argos stated that the products in question were not completely out of stock at the time the ad was seen, and that availability was dependent on customers’ geographical proximity.
According to the company, the advertisements attempted to “accurately forecast supply based on availability,” but stock levels frequently fluctuated “especially for highly sought-after products, and at a time when they faced supply chain difficulties.”
However, the company failed to provide historical closing stock positions and could not substantiate the advertisements’ claims about recent purchases.
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As a result, the ASA upheld the complaints because consumers would interpret the pop-up messages as accurate representations of sales history.
“We noted that the Xbox Series X console was a product that was in high demand at the time the ad was seen and that stock levels across the UK were limited,” the ASA stated.
“We therefore considered that a retailer who listed such an item as being in stock would expect to see an increase in attempted purchases because of the mixture of its scarcity and popularity.”
Furthermore, the watchdog stated that Argos’ website should make it clear when a product has limited availability rather than simply stating “in stock.” It ruled that the advertisements “must not appear again in the forms complained about.”
Source: The Grocer