Who: Invicta Watch Europe (Invicta) and Bol.com (Bol) and the Dutch Advertising Code Committee (ACC).
Where: The Netherlands
When: 31 January 2019
Law stated as at: 28 February 2019
Bol.com offered Invicta watches for sale with the claim in the product description that the watches were waterproof for up to 200 metres under water. However, because this claim could not be proven and a test report did not support this claim, the Dutch Advertising Code Committee ruled that the product information was misleading and unfair.
A consumer filed a complaint with the ACC, stating that the product description for Invicta watches on bol.com was incorrect. The consumer argued that a test by the Invicta service department showed that the watch was waterproof up to 0.5 bar or 5 metres, instead of 20 bar or 200 metres as described on bol.com.
Invicta argued that the service department that received the watch could only perform tests to a depth of 50 meters and provided a test video about the waterproofness, an independent test report and the manual of the watch itself. Bol.com also relied on this defence.
The ACC’s ruling
The ACC found that Invicta and bol.com did not adequately substantiate the claim that the watch was indeed waterproof up to 200 meters. The ACC noted that that if the Invicta service department could perform tests to a depth of 50 meters, it was unclear why the test results only showed that the watch was waterproof up to 0.5 bar or 5 metres and not 5 bar or 50 metres. The additional documents did not alter this finding.
This ultimately meant that the information was misleading and unfair under the Dutch Advertising Code. Bol.com and Invicta were recommended not to advertise in such a way anymore.
Why this matters:
Information concerning an important product specification that cannot be determined with certainty will generally be considered by the ACC to be misleading and unfair. Companies should apply caution when making broad statements about the qualities of their products, especially if they relate to key qualities.