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Avoiding the penalties of misleading advertising

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A local solicitor has highlighted the need for businesses to ensure that their advertising is accurate, or face some potentially expensive consequences. This warning follows a decision by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that a poster by online retailer and auction website eBay was misleading in making the claim that it was "25% cheaper than the high street on brand new items". According to Peter Littlefield of Gepp & Sons in Chelmsford, "The ASA found, although the statement may be true in certain cases, that the fact it was based on an average price meant that some stores might be closer in price to eBay's 25% claim – or in some cases even cheaper. The ASA banned the poster advert from appearing in its current format and upheld that eBay must in future have strong evidence to support such comparative claims. "It really highlights the dangers involved in making such a sweeping claim." Peter Littlefield believes that this ruling is particularly significant in today's difficult economic climate. "More than ever, consumers are basing their buying decisions on value, making price-comparison advertising extremely attractive to companies," he continues. "Even leaving the potential of a heavy fine to one side, the cost involved in having to withdraw an advertisement can be high – both in financial and reputation terms." According to Peter Littlefield, if a business is uncertain about the validity of a claim it is planning to make, it is always sensible to take professional legal advice before committing to it. "If you have any concerns, a straightforward consultation with one of our commercial law experts will save a great deal of stress and potentially a lot of expense," he continues. "Call us on 01245 228108, and we will be delighted to give you our professional opinion based on our deep understanding of the rules that govern advertising." - ends - Notes to editors: • For additional information or comment please contact: Peter Littlefield of Gepp & Sons.