These reports are case summaries of complaints which appeared to raise issues of substance in relation to the interpretation of the ITC Advertising Standards Code. Summary statistics of non-substantive complaints can be found in the full reports which are obtainable from the ITC.
Complaint from: 19 viewers
Between the end of May and 23 July 2002 the ITC received a level of viewer complaints about Auctionworld, a teleshopping auction channel serious enough for it to pursue investigations relating to 19 specific cases of delayed or non-delivery.
Rule 36 (b)(v) of the ITC Code of Advertising Standards and Practice (the code in force at the time investigation commenced) provides that:
"Advertisements for goods offered by mail order or by other forms of direct contact between the respondents and the advertiser (e.g. telephone orders by credit card) are unacceptable unless:
(b) The licensee is satisfied that
(v) the advertiser is able to fulfil orders within 28 days from receipt unless the licensee (or, as the case may be, the Commission) is satisfied that there are particular circumstances where it would be reasonable for the advertiser to state in the advertisement a period in excess of 28 days."
Auctionworld admitted that it had breached the rule. It explained that its procedures aimed at detecting fraudulent transactions could cause delays in customers receiving their goods. However, apart from alleging fraud in relation to five of the 19 cases, at no stage of the investigation did Auctionworld provide any specific details in relation to any of these cases.
In view of Auctionworld's poor compliance history (see Advertising Complaints Reports for March/April/May 2002, September 2002 and October 2002, Bulletin No.2) staff recommended to the Sanctions Sub-Committee of the ITC that it was appropriate to impose a financial penalty against Auctionworld.
At a hearing on 15 January 2003, the Sanctions Sub-Committee found Auctionworld to have breached Rule 36(b)(v). It judged that a substantial financial penalty was merited as this was the second time the ITC had intervened in respect of Auctionworld's poor delivery performance (see March/April/May Complaints Report) and because the Commission felt that Auctionworld had been less than open in its provision of information to the ITC during the investigation.
The Commission however noted evidence that Auctionworld's delivery performance had improved considerably in recent months and concluded that a lower sum was appropriate.
Complaints upheld. Breach of ITC Code Rule 36(b)(v) Code of Advertising Standards and Practice 1998. A fine of £10,000 was imposed on Auctionworld.