ASA upholds complaint about price indications on website

Barry Riley

The Advertising Standards Agency has recently upheld a complaint about a website that did not make it clear that it levied payment card surcharges. When customers selected a payment method, the website added a £1 or £2 charge to the purchase price, depending on the type of card used.

The complainant argued that the website was misleading because the initial price claims did not mention the non-optional card fee. Further, the website quoted VAT-exclusive prices, albeit in the format: “Prices from £10.00 excluding VAT plus VAT £2.00, total £12.00”. The ASA upheld both complaints.

As the website did not mention the non-optional card fee that all buyers would have to pay, the initial price claims were misleading. Although the website quoted VAT-inclusive prices as well as VAT-exclusive prices, all or most of the website’s customers paid VAT for the tickets.

Therefore, the advertisement breached rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 3.17 and 3.18 (Prices) of the Committee of Advertising Practice Code. The decision is notable in view of the Office of Fair Trading’s recent investigation into payment card surcharges.

Website operators must ensure that any extra charges are made clear to a customer at an early stage.

Barry Riley
briley@metcalfes.co.uk
DDI – 0117 9453 042

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