John Lewis has come under fire from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following an “unfair” promotion on Black Friday.
A price match promotion which advertised the Apple watch for £249 garnered a complaint from a shopper after they were told the watch was out of stock at the lower price, only to re-list the item at its full price the day after.
The retailer has stated they removed the watch from sale because it was unsure it had the stock to meet heightened demand of the item due to the deal.
It added that it was in agreement the watch was removed from sale earlier than it could have been, and that it returned the watch to full price a day after as its competitor’s promotion ended.
“We acknowledged that the offer arose from John Lewis’ Price Match policy rather than a price promotion they had planned,” the ASA stated.
“However, while we acknowledged the surrounding circumstances, we considered John Lewis’ action to make a product unavailable on their website while their competitor’s promotion was still running denied online consumers the opportunity to purchase at the Price Match price, despite John Lewis still having stock available.
“We considered John Lewis had not conducted the promotion fairly, resulting in unnecessary disappointment. We therefore concluded that the promotion had breached the code.
“We told John Lewis to ensure they dealt fairly with consumers in future.
“We told them to avoid causing unnecessary disappointment and not to withhold availability of promotional stock.”
In response to the ASA’s ruling, a spokesperson for John Lewis said they were “disappointed” by the decision.
“We believe this is due to a misunderstanding of the difference between a one-day unplanned price match applied because of our Never Knowingly Undersold policy and planned John Lewis four-day Black Friday promotions,” the spokesperson said.
“We are reviewing how we communicate multiple messages about prices and promotions to avoid any possible confusion happening again.
“We had very limited stock and continued to sell the watches in our shops, matching the competitor’s promotion for the one day that it ran.
“Removing stock from sale is not a decision we would take lightly.”