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Unsubstantiated discounts get Amazon in trouble with the ASA

By Chris Dawson April 11, 2018 - 1:32 pm

Amazon have fallen foul of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over four complaints where items were listed in a way to suggest large savings could be made from the discounts when that might not be strictly true according to the ASA’s interpretation.

The product prices and suggested savings were listed on Amazon in July 2017 and all had an ‘RRP’ or ‘Regular Price’ along with a heavily discounted sale price and an indication of the monetary saving. In all four instances the complaint was ‘whether the claim was misleading and could be substantiated’.

Amazon responded that they checked that their RRPs were in line with the prices displayed for the relevant product on third-party websites and the prices of the relevant product as sold by third-party sellers on their own UK Marketplace.

The ASA ruled that Amazon did not provide adequate evidence to support the savings claims and concluded that they had not been substantiated and were misleading. Amazon were ordered to ensure that future references to RRPs reflected the price at which the products concerned were generally sold, and to ensure that they held adequate evidence to substantiate their savings claims.

What evidence do you need to retain to claim discounts?

RRPs often appear to be largely fictional and consumers aren’t fooled by them these days (too many sofa companies with back to back discounted deals). A quick search on the Internet will generally reveal normal selling prices. However retailers still habitually display them and it’s crucial that if you do use RRPs (or strikethrough prices) in your marketplace and website listings or any other marketing that you do that you have evidence that the products have been generally available and sold at the higher price when claiming savings or discounts on offer.

It’s certainly not enough to pick figures from price comparison sites as Amazon did with data from CamelCamelCamel to support some of their discounted pricing as the ASA checked and pointed out no sales took place and the products weren’t even in stock for two of the preceding three months. To support your pricing discounts you need evidence that the product is regularly sold at the higher price in order to advertise the savings on offer.

  • 2 weeks ago

    It is not the first time that Amazon have fallen foul of the ASA, unfortunately the ASA is like a Rottweiler with no teeth.

    Amazon carry on as normal and ASA do nothing.

    I have two outstanding cases dating from November where the items are showing the wrong RRP, I reported both to Amazon and all I get back is weekly updates telling me how they are still looking into it.

    On both cases I gave them the url of the item on the makers own web site clearly showing the RRP.

    I recently pointed out that the same item is being sold on 3 different ASIN’s, although it was clear to anybody that the items were the same, they claimed that as the items had slightly different Brand Names, they would not do anything unless I uploaded a lot of data proof to demonstrate they were the same item, I explained that it was not down t me and as the item was the same they should merge them. They simply replied that if I was not willing to give them the data they require they would not do anything, I didn’t and Amazon closed the case

    • james
      2 weeks ago

      in the case of the 3 different ASIN’s, it’s basically a case of your word vs 3 other sellers word, why would Amazon automatically take your side over 3 other peoples?

      the 3 sellers actually involved in selling these proucts have testified that they are different in some way, one person, apparently with no involvement, claims they’re all the same, but won’t offer any kind of evidence to support that.
      i know who i’d give the benefit of the doubt to.

      let’s flip it on its head for a second.
      I think the Volgswagen Golf and Seat Leon are basically the same car, under a slightly different brand.
      I tell Arnold Clark so, and demand they stop selling one or the other, and re-badge them all as the same thing, agains their wishes and those of the manufacturer.
      I offer no evidence to support my claims.
      Will Arnold Clark re-badge all their Seat Leons as Volkswagen Golfs? No.

    • 2 weeks ago

      @James, really?

      “I think the Volgswagen Golf and Seat Leon are basically the same car, under a slightly different brand.” – Hardly slightly different Brand Names.

      Seat is a brand and so is Volkswagen, but you have highlighted my point with your misspelling.

      Volgswagen Golf – Your listing
      Volkswagen Golf – My listing

      With the same descriptions.

      As far as I know, there is NO Brand name Volgswagen, but there are plenty of used car adverts selling them.

      Unfortunately, the Amazon CS also agreed that they were the same item, but would not merge them without me doing the work to prove it, although I am unsure how you can prove a brand does not exist, when it is clearly a misspelling.

  • james
    2 weeks ago

    I used they two as an example for a reason, because the ARE basically the same car.
    Volkswagen owns Seat, they produce the same car, with minor differences, and sell it as if it were a completely different item.
    this is the first time you mentioned spelling mistakes, in your first post you only mentioned “slightly different brands”, what with Seat and Volkswagen being the same company, that would be an example of “slightly different brands”, not Volgswagen, which is an example of a obvious Typo.

    you can’t prove a brand doesn’t exist, that defies the very nature of evidence. the proof would be that the three brands you mention are in fact the same thing, which is what you’re claiming. My point is, you need to provide some evidence if you want that actioned, otherwise it’s your word against 3 peoples. again, i know who’s side i’d take.

    lets try a different example, now we know you’re talking about an apparent spelling mistake;
    Rolex watches
    Folex watches
    Bolex watches.
    the images all look the same, they’re all watches, only one letter off, so Amazon should combine all 3 of these listings as soon as one person, with no evidence, tells them to? of course not.

    and what about white label goods? where the manufacturer doesn’t register any brand names, it’s down to the seller to brand them. they may even provide different spec units under the same image. so same item, same picture, slightly different name, and that’s exactly the way it shoud be, because they are not technically the same product.

    or Argos, who will often take an existing item, contact the manufacturer, and have them make a cheaper version exclusive to Argos. thinner wood, plastic parts instead of metal, but otherwise identical, and using the same image.
    should these two products, one of clearly inferior spec, be placed side-by-side as if they were the same item? on the say so of one individual with no proof, versus the informed statement of both sellers?

    perhaps you’re right, and they are all the same thing, but with nothing more than your words versus theirs, and yours being the uninformed side of the argument, how can you expect anyone to automatically take your side and action it?

    • 2 weeks ago

      @James, you really have gone of on a tangent…

      Seat and Volkswagen are not slightly different brand names they are COMPLETELY different brand names.

      A Seat car has Seat on it, it does not have Volkswagen, the car is not even called the same name. It would be completely stupid to even suggest to another person that they were the same.

      The images on the items are identical showing the same brand name / product name.

      The Amazon CS agreed that they were the same but still wanted me to prove it.

      They are not taking other sellers word for it as they have not asked the other sellers.

      How is my side the uninformed side of the argument?

  • James
    2 weeks ago

    Okay so you lack the imagination for colourful / humorous examples. Prefer to focus on semantics and spelling rather than the actual point at hand. I’ll try and keep it basic and simple then. No more Similes or metaphors.

    Your argument is that any joe blogs can phone Amazon and tell them where their listings belong,
    without a shred of verifiable fact presented. Merely their uninformed opinion. I think that’s a stupid argument. I’m not at all surprised Amazon didn’t do what you told them to.

    Your side is the uninformed side, because the other side is better informed than yours. (I have to explain this?)
    Were you better informed than the actual owners/sellers of the products, you would have no end of proof to provide, such as the purchase documents. Date of purchase, revision number of each sellers product, cost price, specification of build, etc etc etc. You do not, you possess less information than the seller, therefore you are definitively and objectively less informed than the seller, yes? Yes.

    In fact all you have to go on is what the sellers have written, for you to then argue that what the sellers have written is wrong, but you’re right. You see the hole in that logic?

    They don’t need to ask the seller, the sellers words are on screen for all to see, you’re the one that’s contradicting them and expecting others to act on your speculation that these words are incorrect or misleading. You’re the accuser, the burden of proof is all yours. You provide zero proof, so You have merely opinion and nothing more, but expect Amazon to just do what you say regardless.

    Again, whether you’re right or not is irrelevant. Amazon ain’t doing what you tell them just because you picked the phone up and made accusations without proof. And nor should they.

    I’m sure you’d like to think that if someone else picked up the phone and accused you of misleading buyers, that Amazon would reasonably expect some kind of evidence to back that up before kicking you off the site?
    But no such respect or benefit of doubt when you throw accusations?

    • 2 weeks ago

      Actually James your story was not a colourful / humorous example, it was based on complete stupidity…

      Your ranting does not demonstrate any reasoning.

      You seem to be making things up as you go:

      1. I did not call Amazon
      2. I am selling the item on one of the listings, hence my interest in there not being duplicate listings. So how do I “possess less information than the seller”.

      As I said above, the images on all three listings are the same, showing the full brand name as it should be and the title of the product, along with the contents.

      And did you not take note of the fact that I said above “The Amazon CS agreed that they were the same but still wanted me to prove it.”

      The only proof I could send them is what I have purchased, that does not show what others are selling or prove that others are selling the same.

      The only way I could actually prove it would be to buy one from the other sellers and take a photo along with my item, but that would be bizarre, as I could easily just replace their product with mine if I wanted to cheat the system.

      I have actually had many listings merged before on just informing the Customer Support in similar instances.

      And why would I want to have a listing that I am selling on merged with an item if it was wrong, I do not get a say in which one stays.

  • BABYLOU-007
    5 days ago

    DEAR AMAZON,
    WHY YOU SPINS DIZZILY ?
    CHARLATAN AND HYPOCRITES AND YOUR FALSE MORALITY IS LIKE A THIEF WHOSE HONESTY DEPENDS UPON THE BARS IN HIS CELL…

    THESE FAKE DISCOUNTS IN ALL AMAZON PRIME SPECIFICALLY… CONTRFEIT SALE TECHNIC EXPOSED …. IN UK FR DE WORLWIDE IS LIKE A THIETH WEARING A POLICEMAN UNIFORM …. WELL KNOWN IN SOME EUROPEEN COUNTRY THE JUSTICE DID TACKLE YOU ABOUT THESE FAKE DISCOUNT BY PUTTING HIGHER PRICE RPR X 3 CONTRARY TO NORMAL RETAIL PRICES AND DOING 70% OFF TO 80% FAKE DISCOUNT ….. CHECK FRANCE CONSUMER LAWYER DID TAKLE AMAZON FOR THAT IT IS IN NEWS PAPER AS A FACT….. AND SELLERS GETTING A FINE TO PAY IF CAUGHT UP…… IN AMAZON FRANCE

    AMAZON ….. YOUR GULLIBILITY BY CALLING ITSELF MANY FLATTERING NAMES , INCLUDING FAITH, TRUST, DEVOTION, LOYALTY AND LOVE….

    HEAR THIS AMAZON…… Recall a time when someone made to you a rude remarks or argued like an idiot you may have thought ” Why can’t he see how dumb he is ?” you ruinous behaviour rules the world you lives from nightmares which you call exciting life… your exterior friendliness is a hideous lie, use these exposures to make you a walking lie detector.

    SINCERELY YOURS
    BABYLOU-007

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