Dell's knuckles rapped for misleading UK advert

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Dell's knuckles rapped for misleading UK advert

ASA gives direct computing giant a ticking off.

Dell has been wrapped across its knuckles by the UK Advertising Standards Authority for a television promotion that left angry punters unable to buy the featured laptop for the advertised special price.

The UK ad watchdog ruling concerned a TV ad by Dell Computers that said: "Whatever you need a PC for, Dell has the one you want for less than you might expect. Right now get this Dell Inspiron notebook featuring an Intel Celeron processor for only £299." On-screen text gave a website address and a phone number.

But 23 complainants said the laptop was not available on the website for £299. Instead they said it was listed, but was offered at £349.

A further two complainants said the laptop was offered for £299 on Dell's website but the price rose when they selected it.

Dell said the laptop, an Inspiron 1300, was initially not listed on its website, but available through telephone sales only for a short time.

The direct computing giant added that the inflated price was due to the automatic inclusion of an "upgraded service package" that customers could opt not to pay for, if they so wished.

In upholding the complaints against Dell the ASA said that because the ad featured both a phone number and a website address, viewers would expect the laptop to be available to purchase at the advertised price by both means when the ad was first broadcast.

As the laptop initially was not available on the website at the advertised price, the ad was therefore deemed misleading. On this point the ad was found to have breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1 (Misleading advertising), 5.2.1 (Evidence), 5.2.3 (Qualifications) and 5.3.1 (Accurate pricing).

The second complaint made against Dell's ad was not upheld by the ASA. "We considered that the text on the website that said 'For your added protection the above price includes an upgraded service package. To reach the advertised price please select a downgraded service from the Support Services section below' was an adequate indication to users that the package they had selected had been upgraded and that they could deselect this upgrade to reach the advertised price," the ASA stated.

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form, the watchdog ruled.
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