It’s not lying if you get away with it.

I do go on about kitchen retailers pretending their kitchens would usually cost twice as much, or pretending you’ll lose a lot of money if you don’t buy one RIGHT NOW! I keep saying Hurry Up And Buy, Before The Price Stays The Same!

I can’t read minds. I’m assuming intention. It might be accidental that these retailers keep saying things in ways that would make a reasonable person draw a conclusion which isn’t true. I just don’t think that’s likely, and the Advertising Standards Authority tends to agree.

There are people – especially some retailers – who say, Who cares? Caveat Emptor and all that: if people are silly enough to fall for it, that’s their look-out.

I don’t think deceiving people is either clever or an acceptable way to do business, but, yes, that’s just an opinion. Some people think it is clever, and acceptable.

But some other people say that it wouldn’t be allowed if it was really bad, would it?

Allowed by whom?

Nobody actively polices retail marketing. Trading Standards can take up a complaint, and even prosecute, if you’ve been ripped off, but that’s after the fact. The ASA, similarly, will investigate a complaint about advertising – if someone complains, and, again, after the fact. Publishers of advertising will try to anticipate whether they might be implicated in such a complaint, and what the consequences might be, and weigh that against their need to sell ad space.

And what happens if the ASA finds that advertising has been misleading? They tell the retailer not to do it again. Oo-er. By that time, of course, the retailer’s enjoyed the benefit of the misleading advertising: they’ve taken the sales, thanks very much.

Offenders tend to be repeat offenders. That is, when they get caught misleading people, they adjust their wording slightly – and then tend to get caught again. It’s almost as if misleading people isn’t accidental at all.

Wren misleads on comparisons.

Wren misleads on discounts and on offer ends.

Wren misleads on comparisons.

Wickes misleads on discounts.

Wren misleads on offer ends.

Wren misleads on discounts.

Wickes misleads on discounts.

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