The ASA received a complaint that a games console repair service website was misleading as to charges for work to consoles beyond economic repair. M Blue said if “self diagnosis” and a particular repair were selected, then it was fair to charge even if other faults meant the console still didn’t work. Hannah Willson reports.
Who: M Blue Ltd/sonyplaystationrepairs.co.uk and the Advertising Standards Authority
When: June 2012
Law stated as at: July 2012
The Advertising Standards Agency (“ASA”) has recently adjudicated on a console repair service’s website and whether its price claims were misleading.
M Blue Limited (“M Blue”) trading as www.sonyplaystationrepairs.co.uk offered a Sony Playstation games console repair service giving consumers two repair options: either a diagnostic test followed by a repair if confirmed, or self-diagnosis and an order for a specific repair selected by the customer.
The website said:
Step 1: Choose your Playstation repair.
Step 2: Send us your Playstation by post.
Step 3: We repair and test your Playstation.
Step 4: We return repaired Playstation within 3-5 days.
The consumer who complained to the ASA chose to self-diagnose the repair service required but was returned a still-broken Playstation console whilst still being charged for the repair.
The ASA queried whether the website was misleading as it did not state clearly that if the self-diagnosis option was chosen and the repair requested was successfully undertaken, but the console required further repair for other reasons, the cost of the repair would not be refunded.
Despite M Blue arguing that the website was not misleading since they conducted the repairs requested of them when the self-diagnosis option was selected and that the terms and conditions clearly set out that where the requested repair was impossible a full refund was available the ASA ruled against M Blue.
The ASA ruling set out that a failure to make clear that customers would be charged the full cost of repair to their console, regardless of whether further work would be required to restore the device to full functionality, breached advertising standards.
The fact that M Blue would still charge the customer despite the device remaining out of order, was an important condition, the regulator said. As such, the failure to highlight this point to consumers breached the CAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.3 in relation to marketing
communications that mislead, or omit material information that misleads the consumer and rule 3.9 in relation to the failure of a significant qualification from being included in the marketing communication.
Why this matters:
This adjudication serves as a reminder of the extended remit of the CAP Code to a company’s website can have far-reaching effect.
Separately, although this does appear to be a rather harsh decision given the clarity of the refund policy in the terms and conditions on the website, the verdict underlines the need to ensure that “material” conditions are identified and brought to the particular attention of consumers.
With assistance from Abigail Ash.