23 May 2024, 23:33
By Furniture News Sept 07, 2022

Retailer delivery timeframe promise deemed misleading

Furniture Village has been chastised by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after two product listings on its website in November last year were deemed misleading.

The listings featured the claim "Expected in 21 days", next to an icon of a van. Clicking on the claim in each took website visitors to a section of the same page entitled 'Delivery', which included text that stated: “Please note that our estimated delivery times are given in good faith, based on the best information we have. Like every other UK retailer, we are temporarily experiencing delays to some customer orders, due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic and the nationwide shortage of HGV drivers.”

The complainant, who did not receive the products within 21 days, challenged whether the “Expected in 21 days” claims were misleading and could be substantiated.

Furniture Village said it closely monitored the proportion of orders fulfilled on time and frequently adjusted the timeframe quoted on each product listing on its website to ensure that it was accurate. For both of the products ordered by the complainant, the retailer provided the ASA with a record of every order placed in the six months leading up to 15th November 2021. It included the date that each order was placed, the delivery date quoted to customers after purchase, and the actual date of delivery. Furniture Village added that both products were sourced from the same supplier, and provided a chart that showed the average delivery timeframe for orders from that supplier was 3.5 weeks in the week the complainant placed their order, and 3.8 weeks the following week.

Furniture Village said that the global supply chain crisis had contributed to disruption and delays on the delivery of certain products. It sais it believed that being transparent about such difficulties was important, and referred to the linked text.

The retailer acknowledged that the delivery of the complainant’s order had been significantly delayed. The retailer said that, shortly after the order was received on 14th November 2021, the supplier of both products had notified it that one of the products was temporarily unavailable in the customer’s chosen fabric, and that it had contacted the complainant in December and emailed them in January to update them with revised delivery times.

Furntiure Village said the information it had provided showed that the majority of orders were delivered sooner than the timeframes stated on its website, but believed that its communications with the complainant demonstrated that it had a robust process in place to notify customers of unforeseen delays.

Ultimately, the complaint was upheld. The ASA considered that the prominent claim gave the impression that the products would be delivered within 21 days, barring unforeseen circumstances outside of Furniture Village’s control. However, it also considered that consumers would expect estimated delivery timeframes to take account of any ongoing disruption.

The ASA accepted that the less prominent qualifying text, that referred to “delays to some … orders”, resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and HGV driver shortage, slightly mitigated the impression given by the main claim. However, it further considered that, if the disruption had meant a significant proportion of orders were delayed beyond the quoted timeframe, the qualifying text would be insufficient to counter the impression given by the main claim.

The ASA also referred to the data that Furniture Village provided regarding its delivery performance, first noting that the delivery dates quoted to customers post-purchase were frequently significantly later than 21 days after the order was placed, and therefore were not in line with the timeframe stated on the website.

Notwithstanding that, the data showed that, for one of the products, 44% of orders placed in the six months to 15th November 2021 were delivered later than the date given after purchase. In the case of the other, 30% of orders placed during the same period were delivered after that date.

The ASA considered that those figures indicated that a large proportion of orders had been delayed beyond the timeframe provided to customers after purchase, and therefore in many cases even further beyond the delivery timeframe stated on the website, and that this suggested that the complainant’s experience was relatively common.

Because Furniture Village had not provided adequate evidence to substantiate the “Expected in 21 days” claims, the ASA concluded that they were misleading, and ruled that the ad must not appear again in the form complained about.

© 2013 - 2024 Gearing Media Group Ltd. All Rights Reserved.