Online electronics retailer Dabs.com issued a printed brochure which advertised a particular laptop for sale at £789. Text on the page opposite to the advert said “Check www.dabs.com for latest prices”. A complaint was made that the advert was misleading because it was apparent from dabs.com that the laptop was not available at this price.

The price had been included in the brochure in error but Dabs.com said that, in any event, it had to keep changing its prices because of the nature of the online electronics retail market. The point of including “Check www.dabs.com for latest prices” was to take account of this and ensure that customers always had access to upto- date prices even when the brochure prices had been superseded.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the advert in the brochure was misleading because the laptop was not available at the advertised price at the time the advert was in circulation. Consumers would expect an advertised price to be correct at the time they saw the advert. The text “Check www.dabs.com for latest prices” did not make it sufficiently clear that the prices in the advert were subject to regular change. A brochure was an unsuitable medium for dabs.com to advertise its products as it was likely to remain in circulation after prices had changed.

Dabs.com was told to make sure that prices stayed stable while a price specific advert was in circulation and told not to use the advert again.

The adjudication is important for online retailers who produce printed brochures. They should ensure that the prices will remain valid for the lifetime of the brochure, and stipulate what that is.

Click here for a copy of the ASA’s adjudication