Three web ad banned for “misleading” availability claims

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ASA uphold complaint against operator’s ad which suggested an out of stock tablet would be available through other channels

A promotion for an Alcatel tablet device which appeared on Three’s website has been banned by the advertising standards authority (ASA) after a customer challenged claims made about its availability.

Text below the advert for the Alcatel One Touch Evo 7 Wi-Fi stated: “Stock levels: We’re out of stock online. To buy this item please call us on: 0800 358 8460 or visit a 3Store.”

After calling the number the complainant was offered a different, more expensive tablet. The complainant, who first saw the advert in June, then challenged whether the promotion misleadingly implied that the tablet was available by phone or in store.

Hutchison 3G UK, trading as Three, responded by stating that they did not consider the claims “to be advertising or a sales promotion”, adding that it was “standard practice” to advise consumers to check other channels when one channel is out of stock.

The operator also said that it did not advertise low cost but unavailable deals to “get customers through the door”.

However the ASA deemed that some consumers may be confused by the statement and found that Three breached Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Codes relating to “misleading adversing” and “availability”.

The advert has been banned in its current form, and the ASA has told Three to make clear that consumers should call or go in store to find out whether a product is available, but not to suggest that it is guaranteed.

In a statement, Three said: “Due to the success of this compelling tablet offer, stock sold out quickly in our retail channels. We reassured the ASA that we would act quickly to take down offers that were sold out”.

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