Amazon censured over ‘free delivery’ claim

An Amazon ad for its annual membership programme Amazon Prime has been banned for claiming one of the benefits of the £49 a year service was “free”.

Amazon Prime Ad
Amazon Prime ad banned.

The ad, which appeared on Amazon’s website, said: “Get your stuff fast. Unlimited free one-day delivery on all eligible orders. Try Amazon Prime free for one month: unlimited free one-day delivery…after your free trial, Amazon Prime is just £49/year”.

It sparked a complaint that the “free” claim was misleading because membership of Amazon Prime required payment for the subscription.

Amazon said it believed its use of the word “free” provided “clarity” to the customer regarding what benefits they would get for their £49 membership. One-day delivery usually costs between £3.95 and £7.99.

The online retailer added that it believed omitting the word “free” from the messaging would lead to “confusion” for the consumer, who would wonder whether there would be any charge payable for delivery.

The CAP Code states advertisers must not describe an element of a package as free if that element is included in the package price.

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the use of the word “free” was misleading because members had to pay £49 before they could redeem it – although the regulator noted Amazon’s intention was to make clear delivery was without charge.

The watchdog has banned the ad and told Amazon not to describe Prime’s one-day delivery benefits as “free” again.

Amazon’s UK financials were revealed for the first time this week after the parliamentary committee probing the company’s tax arrangements published them online. Usually Amazon does not split out UK earnings in its company results statements.

Amazon generated £3.35bn in UK sales before tax in 2011, with £2.9bn of that from amazon.co.uk and approximately £441m in revenue from subsidiaries such as LoveFilm. It made £74m in profit in the period.

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here