ASA Adjudication on Express Newspapers
Express Newspapers t/a
Northern and Shell Building
10 Lower Thames Street
489-499 Avebury Boulevard
Saxon Great West
Central Milton Keynes
2 March 2011
Number of complaints:
A front-page flash on the Sunday Express stated "FREE BOARD GAME GET YOURS TODAY! FROM ARGOS RRP £19.99 PAGE 34". Small print stated "Subject to availability". On page 34, text stated "Cut out this coupon and present it at the checkout of any UK Argos store TODAY to claim your free Hasbo Pictureka! game worth £19.99. COUPON ONLY VALID TODAY Sunday, November 7, 2010". Terms and conditions stated "This offer is subject to availability while stocks last...".
Three readers, who visited their local Argos stores soon after opening on 7 November 2010 and were told the item was out of stock, challenged its availability.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Express Newspapers said they estimated the likely response to the promotion on previous retail redemptions and believed they had enough stock to meet that response. They submitted a document stating the redemption rates of previous retail promotions from 2010.
Argos Ltd (Argos) said, the available stock for redemption was limited to 10,000 units and they had made this clear to Express Newspapers. They said they had taken steps to ensure the promotional items were distributed widely across all stores but had relied on the expertise of Express Newspapers for the purposes of estimating likely demand. They nevertheless acknowledged that demands had outstripped supply in the stores visited by the complainants.
The ASA noted the information about previous retail redemptions provided by Express Newspapers referred to food, drink and other products unrelated to board games. We noted the promotion stated "subject to availability while stocks last" but also stated "... the Sunday Express has teamed up with Hasbro and Argos to offer a free game RRP £19.99 to every reader". We acknowledged that the Sunday Express had provided information about redemptions for previous promotions but considered that the Express had not shown those promotional items were sufficiently similar in nature or value to provide a reasonable basis for estimating demand for the board game, or proved that the number of redemptions was not exceeded by demand in those promotions also. We considered that the Sunday Express and Argos had not demonstrated that they had made a reasonable estimate of demand for the board game and, moreover, had encouraged readers to purchase the Sunday Express as a precondition to obtaining the board game when the number of items was limited. We concluded that the promotion breached the code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 8.2 (Sales promotions); 8.9, 8.10 and 8.11 (Availability) and 8.14 (Administration).
The ad must not appear again in its current form.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)