The commercial rivalry between two UK online retailers has spilt over into the world of advertising, or more precisely the heady world of UK advertising adjudication, run by the Advertising Standards Authority.
Amazon.co.uk complained directly to the ASA that Tesco has sent out an email for DVDs and CDs, that attempted to seduce purchasers as follows, “Did you know our chart CDs and DVDs are cheaper than Amazon.co.uk and Play.com?* Visit Tesco Jersey and see for yourself … *Refers to Tesco Jersey, Amazon.co.uk and Play.com delivered prices”.
This put Amazon.co.uk’s nose right out of joint on two counts. Firstly some of the chart DVDs from Amazon Jersey were available from less money than Tesco Jersey, secondarily they felt it mislead readers as Amazon order over £19 included delivery.
The ASA batted the first complaint aside, but felt the second held water despite Tesco putting up the follow argument. Their long winded thinking can be cut down to … As no single CD or DVD was priced over £19 (thank goodness – our addition), to qualify for the Amazon free delivery, it entailed ordering more than one item.
Well, yes, true. We follow that. The ASA also did, but found it irrelevant.
How did Tesco aim to put this right? First by stating that they didn’t think the ad was misleading, then with a swift call to their internal legal department by the looks of it. They fine tuned their terms and conditions of the price comparison on their Website.
We’ll save you from all of the details, but to us the pertinent part of it was “Comparison excludes multiple purchase or free delivery offers.”
But this jiggery pokery didn’t get them off the hook and the ASA found against them.
What terrible fate awaits Tesco? The ASA told Tesco to make clear in future that the claim referred to single item purchases and excluded their competitor’s multiple purchase discounts. We bet the collective boots of Tesco shook.
It’s a funny old world isn’t it?
Well what can we draw from this? It shows that the online market is sufficiently tough – and potentially profitable – that Amazon is employing people that read through their competitors emails looking for the smallest detail that they can try and call them on.
We have no doubt that Tesco would do the same to any other company that it felt threatened by.
Given the outcome, we suspect that neither Amazon with be cracking the champagne in celebration, nor Tesco will be drowning their sorrows.
The world continues to turn and the happy came of capitalism continues to fight another day.