They have been in force now for well over a year, but still they are largely unknown and ignored.
Topic: Distance selling
Who: Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) and Tempur-Pedic (UK) Ltd
When: November 2001
The ASA upheld a complaint in respect of a mailing promoting at home, supposedly no obligation trials of Tempur brand mattresses “with absolutely no risk”. Recipients were invited to enter direct into two different deals. Either they could pay the full price now on the basis that if they decided to return the mattress within 60 days this would be refunded in full. Alternatively they could pay 10% deposit which would be refundable if they rejected the mattress within 60 days. On the back of the price list it was stated “Please note your delivery charge is non-refundable.”
The complainant mentioned that with option one there was no refund if the mattress was damaged during the 60 day period and also the delivery charge was not refundable. Accordingly, it was suggested, the “Absolutely no risk” wording was misleading and for the same reason the “Pay only 10% deposit” claim was misleading.
During processing of the complaint it emerged that the full terms and conditions of the offer were only provided after the consumer had placed the order and when the bed itself was delivered.
The complaints were upheld.
Why this matters:
What is not mentioned in the ASA report is the small matter of the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, which clearly applied to this offer. One result of this was that the punter had a legal right in any event to sample the mattress for 7 days without obligation and then reject. Also, the regulations impose strict requirements on the information about the offer to be supplied clearly and unambiguously at specified times before and by the time of the contract being concluded. As a recent National Consumer Council report has confirmed, these regulations are still largely ignored and breached by direct sellers on-line and off-line, who are in most cases not even aware of their existence.