The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has found two Takealot product advertisements to be misleading after customers complained about them.
In one instance, a customer complained when he clicked a product featured in Takealot’s daily newsletter only to find the price had jumped from R4,199 to R4,699.
For the second case, the Takealot customer complained about a product listing’s misleading title.
The first customer had written to the ARB regarding a 17 February 2021 Takealot newsletter advertising a Philips airfryer for R4,199. The ARB ruled on 29 March 2021.
In its decision, the ARB highlighted two clauses in the Code of Advertising Practice:
- Advertisers must have reasonable grounds for believing it can supply any demand likely created by the advertising.
- In particular, advertisers should not advertise unavailable or non-existent products to assess likely public 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.
Had the promotion expired after two units were sold, that would be unreasonable. However, if Takealot had sold 2,000 units before ending the deal, that would be reasonable.
The ARB also ruled on the product with the misleading name in March last year.
The product is still listed on the Takealot website.
According to the complaint, the product listing is misleading as it is titled “Automatic Double Intelligent Electric Breast Pump”, even though the device pictured is a single breast pump.
“If one Googles the difference between a double and single breast pump, there are a number of explanations, all relating to the ability to pump one or two breasts with the device,” the ARB noted.
Without feedback from Takealot, the ARB was left to speculate what the word “double” in the product listing could be referring to.
The product’s description on the Takealot website states that the device operates in two phases.
Although this could be why the merchant used “double” in their Takealot listing, the ARB ruled the use of the word was ambiguous at best.
In both cases, the ARB advised members not to accept these kinds of ads.
Although Takealot is not a member of the ARB and does not submit to its jurisdiction, the ruling gives guidance to media and advertisers who are members.
“The ARB will rule on whatever is before it when making a decision for the guidance of its members,” the self-regulatory body stated.
“This ruling will be binding only on ARB members and on broadcasters in terms of the Electronic Communications Act.”
MyBroadband contacted Takealot for comment, but the company didn’t respond by the time of publication.
The ARB has clarified that its website lists these rulings as being taken in 2022 partly due to a system error.