ASA upholds complaints against retailers’ computer claims

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is urging the computer industry to stop exaggerating the screen sizes of personal computers in their advertising.

The advertising industry watchdog has upheld complaints this week against three prominent computer retailers – Evesham Micros, Time Computers and Tiny Computers – whose ads had all quoted screen sizes which were based on the size of the monitors’ cathode ray tubes (CRTs) rather than the actual visible screen areas.

The three companies all claimed that it was “common practice” for the computer industry to quote the CRT as the monitor size, although this measurement can be up to one and a half inches larger than the visible viewing area.

But the ASA ruled that the ads were misleading because consumers would be more likely to interpret the descriptions as relating to the actual visible screen size. The authority has asked the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) to write to all computer manufacturers and retailers urging them to change their common practice.

“It may be common practice, but we still think it is misleading and would like them to quote the visible screen size in the future. If they do not, there are likely to be further adjudications of this kind,” says an ASA spokesman.

The authority has also asked CAP to draw up a set of guidelines for advertisers of organic food, after a number of complaints have been made against leading supermarket chains. Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Iceland have all been criticised for making misleading claims in ads for their organic ranges.

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