The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) found two advertisements for Takealot products to be misleading after customers complained about them.
In one case, a customer complained when he clicked on a product featured in Takealot’s daily newsletter to find that the price had dropped from R4,199 to R4,699.
In the second case, the Takealot customer complained about the misleading title of a product listing.
The first customer had written to the ARB on March 29, 2021 regarding a Takealot newsletter from February 17, 2021 advertising a Philips airfryer for R4,199. The ARB ruled on the matter a year later.
In its decision, the ARB highlighted two clauses of the code of advertising practices:
- Advertisers must have reasonable grounds to believe that they can meet any demand that may be created by the advertisement.
- In particular, advertisers should not advertise products that are unavailable or non-existent in order to gauge likely audience demand.
The ARB noted that Takealot did not respond to the complaint, making it impossible to know how much stock the online retailer had before running the ad.
If the promotion had expired after selling two units, that would be unreasonable. However, if Takealot had sold 2,000 units before ending the deal, that would be reasonable.
The complaint about the misleadingly named product was also filed in March last year, with the ARB issuing a ruling a year later.
The product is still listed on the Takealot website.
According to the complaint, the product listing is misleading because it is titled “Automatic smart double electric breast pump“, even though the device shown is a single breast pump.
“If one googles the difference between a double and single breast pump, there are a number of explanations, all related to the ability to pump one or both breasts with the device,” ARB noted. .
Without Takealot’s comments, the ARB had to speculate what the word “double” in the product listing might refer to.
The product description on the Takealot site states that the device works in two phases.
While this may be why the trader used “double” in their Takealot listing, the ARB deemed the use of the word to be ambiguous at best.
In both cases, the ARB advised members not to accept such advertisements.
Although Takealot is not a member of the ARB and does not submit to its jurisdiction, the ruling provides guidance to media outlets and advertisers who are members.
“The ARB will adjudicate on whatever comes before it when making the decision to guide its members,” the self-regulatory body said.
“This decision will only bind members of the ARB and broadcasters within the meaning of the Electronic Communications Act.”
MyBroadband has reached out to Takealot for comment, but the company has not responded at press time.