Prime grounds for a complaint?

The adverts at issue in the case were website pages that stated:

  1. “get unlimited One-Day Delivery with Amazon Prime”, with a link to start a 30-day free trial with Amazon Prime; and
  2. a separate web page featured the headline claim “Start Your Amazon Prime Free Trial Membership”, alongside the claim “Unlimited One-Day Delivery on millions of eligible items”,

The complaints concerned whether the advertising made it sufficiently clear that not all products would benefit from one-day delivery, and the fact that the ‘one-day’ aspect of the delivery commenced upon dispatch, rather than on the placing of the order by the customer.

The ASA delivers its Ruling:

In the Ruling, the ASA concluded that in the context in which the claims were used a consumer would be likely to interpret the claim “One-Day Delivery” to mean that all Prime labelled items were available for delivery by the end of the day after the day on which the order was placed, so long as the customer did not order too late in the day or for Sunday delivery.

The ASA noted that the “Help & Customer service” section of the Amazon website, which was accessible within two clicks from the home page, explicitly stated that One-Day Delivery would be “1 business day after dispatch”. However, the ASA concluded that many customers were “unlikely to visit those separate web pages” before “making a decision about whether to purchase Amazon Prime”, and in any event that information was of limited use, as it still did not inform customers of how long after submitting an order they would actually receive their purchase.

Amazon provided the ASA with data on One-Day Delivery orders to demonstrate the percentage of their one day deliveries in 2017 that were ‘on-time’ – i.e. delivered the day after dispatch. Whilst the ASA described this evidence as ‘robust’, it was deemed not relevant to the complaint as it did not support the “One-Day Delivery” claims as they would be interpreted by a consumer, because it did not show how often that delivery date was actually the day after the order was placed.

In this instance, the key consideration of the ASA was not whether delivery was received on time after dispatch in accordance with Amazon’s policy; rather, the ASA ultimately determined that the option of One-Day Delivery was a benefit to the consumer of Amazon Prime membership, and as such, the claim was misleading and likely to “cause consumers to make a transactional decision in relation to purchasing Amazon Prime”.

The ASA therefore ruled that the advert may no longer appear in its current form.