Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Prettylittlething.com Ltd
Where: United Kingdom
When: 27 September 2023
Law stated as at: 19 October 2023
The ASA has issued a ruling against the fast-fashion clothing brand Pretty Little Thing (PLT) for not administering a promotion fairly.
The promotion in question was an email sent to consumers allowing them to re-join PLT’s premier delivery service (called “Royalty”) at a reduced rate of £3.99 and the promotion also stated that those consumers who rejoined the service would be entitled to receive an extra 25% off sale items. The text of the email stated “Re-join royalty now for £3.99 using your exclusive offer & get an extra 25% off sale too”, alongside a discount code.
The complainant attempted to redeem the promotion, but was not able to do so. Although they were able to use the premier delivery element of the service, the 25% discount had not been applied to sale items in their basket. The ASA was told that the complainant then contacted PLT’s customer service team but was told that the promotional offer did not apply to sale items, and that they would be unable to redeem the advertised discount. In response to the complaint, PLT said that it had conducted an internal audit and found that an IT error had occurred which affected the discount code (which resulted in it not applying to the sale items) and further stated that the customer service contact was not reported internally, and as such, the issue was not investigated or resolved sooner.
The ASA found that this was in breach of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code)’s rule 8.2. This rule ensures that “promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.”
While the ASA acknowledged PLT’s explanation that the promotion had not been valid due to an IT error, it concluded that because complainant had been unable to redeem the promotion when the ad stated that the discount code could be redeemed against items on sale despite also contacting the customer services team, the promotion had not been administered fairly.
Why this matters:
This ruling demonstrates the ASA’s pertinacity in enforcing the CAP Code, despite claims of IT issues being at fault. Businesses should take care to approach the administration of a promotion holistically. This should be done by ensuring that all of the potentially relevant business processes and functions (in this case, the technology and customer service functions) involved in conducting a promotion equitability are clearly thought out, and in place prior to the promotion being administered to any potential participants.