ASA upholds complaint over John Lewis Apple computer ad
The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that John Lewis can no longer use an advert that promised a free 2-year guarantee on any Apple computer sold by the retailer.
Dixons Retail had complained to the ASA that the advert was misleading as it believed the guarantees had always been included in the price and therefore could not be described as "free".
John Lewis said its guarantees were an additional, separate service benefit to its customers and that it did not charge for guarantees or increase its prices to take account of any cost of the guarantee. The retailer highlighted examples of "free" used to describe additional services from free delivery to free recycling and said the claim "free" was well understood by consumers.
However, the ASA rejected this argument, saying in its adjudication: "Marketers must not describe an element of a package as "free" if that element was included in the package price unless consumers were likely to regard it as an additional benefit because it had recently been added to the package without increasing its price."
It continued: "To demonstrate that the "free" guarantees had recently been added to the products promoted in the ad without increasing their price, John Lewis would therefore need to show that those products had been on sale at the same price but without a guarantee, or with a less favourable, significantly shorter guarantee before the longer "free" guarantees had been added."
The ASA ruled that the adverts must not appear again in their current form and told John Lewis not to refer to guarantees as "free" unless it could show that the products had been on sale at the same price without the guarantee, or with a significantly shorter guarantee.
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