A consumer complaint against Pick n Pay for a misleading advert for boxes of long-life milk for R69,99 has been upheld by the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB).
Complainant Willem Heckroodt submitted that when he went to buy the advertised special, he was told the offer was limited to two boxes per customer. He felt this was a case of misleading advertising because nowhere in the advert nor in any of the in-store advertising or displays was it stated the offer was limited.
In its response to the complaint, Pick n Pay said that its pamphlets and catalogues claim offers were subject to stock availability. Its store managers were permitted to exercise their discretion to set a limit per customer when the stock of a product was running low.
Pick n Pay said this might happen in cases where an advertised product sold faster than anticipated. Quantity limits could be set to ensure more customers benefitted from the promotion.
The ARB said its clause in the Code of Advertising Practice relating to misleading advertising claims states: “Advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presentation which, directly or by implication, omission, ambiguity, inaccuracy, exaggerated claim or otherwise, is likely to mislead the consumer.”
The ARB found while Pick n Pay had claimed all deals were subject to stock availability, nowhere was this stated in the advertising.
“The ordinary reasonable customer is familiar with this phrase as it is commonly used when products are advertised. The directorate is of the view that ‘subject to availability’ is not the same as ‘limited to xxx per customer’, which is what appears to have been in play in the current situation,” the ARB found, adding it “is not convinced by the advertiser’s argument”.
The ARB said the store manager discretion in cases of high demand argument “would be acceptable if the customer was made aware of the limitation in the advertising material through a phrase such as ‘limitations per customer may apply’.”
Pick n Pay’s argument was not accepted and it was found the company had failed to indicate limitations anywhere on the milk promotion advertising.
The sanction laid down by the ARB was an instruction to Pick n Pay to ensure its pamphlets and in-store advertisements must include the limitation of the number of products a customer may purchase, or the fact that the store may exercise its discretion in this regard.
Question 1 (20marks)
Based on the case study, critically discuss five (5) forms of accusations that marketing have against harming consumers. Comment on whether Pick n Pay was wrong or correct in this instance and support your answer.
Question 2 (10 Marks
As a new manager at Pick n Pay you have been requested to educate employees on corporate marketing ethics policies. Giving reference to the issues that took place in the case study, critical discuss the policies to your employees.
Answers to Above Questions Pick n Pay Case Study
Answer 1: Marketers make use of different types of marketing strategies in order to mislead their customers. However this can have severe consequences to marketers in the form of accusation on different grounds. The five important forms of accusation that marketing has against harming consumers could be false advertisement, inappropriate claims, incomplete information, negative advertisement, ambiguity. In the given case of Pick n Pay, it did not provide complete information in its advertisement claim which created confusion among customers.
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