eBay Warned About Misleading Ad

    April 23, 2009

A British advertising watchdog has told eBay to stop claiming it offers brand new items for 25 percent less than retail stores.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said Wednesday, that eBay’s posters claim a 25 percent discount was misleading because it did no provide enough details of how the comparison pricing was conducted.

eBay hired a third party company to compare prices on certain items sold on its site and at major British retailers Debhenhams and John Lewis.

eBay Misleading

"Because an average had been taken of all the stores prices, it was possible that one store could have been regularly cheaper than eBay, or regularly much closer in price to eBay," the ASA said.

"We considered that, although it might be the case that eBay was cheaper than some high street stores for some new products, the evidence was not sufficient to support such an absolute claim that eBay was cheaper than all high street stores for all new products."

The ASA also pointed out that eBay did not make clear that items such as furniture, luggage, desktop computers, toys and games had not been included in the comparison and said the ad must not appear again.

"Because the small print was of insufficient size to avoid being overlooked, and because it contradicted the main message of the headline, we considered that the ad was likely to mislead," the ASA said.

eBay was warned it must have robust evidence to support comparative claims in the future.