PC World misled laptop lovers

PC World has been ticked off for not having enough stock to meet a promotion for a cut-price laptop.

The computer retailer, part of DSG International, which includes Dixons and Currys ran a national press advertisement that told punters they could, “SAVE UP TO £140 ON LAPTOPS … Packard Bell … MODEL: R4650 … USUAL IN-STORE PRICE £639.99 … TAKE HOME TODAY! VOUCHER PRICE* TAKE THIS INTO STORE INC VAT £499.99.”

The promise of a price guarantee just before Christmas convinced one Merseyside man to take PC World up on its offer, which claimed savings up to £140, as part of a “technology price crash.”

But after brandishing the newspaper cutout at PC World stores in Birkenhead and Chester, staff revealed to the man they had run out of the discounted laptops.

In response to a complaint made to the Advertising Standards Authority, DSG explained that sales “rose beyond expectations during the promotional period”, and that 500 laptops were sold in the first two days of the promotion.

DSG Retail Ltd, owner of PC World, said it always tries to forecast demand but failed to anticipate it properly on this occasion. It also failed to convince the advertising watchdog its effort was credible.

“We considered that DSG had not shown that they had made a reasonable estimate of demand based on previous similar promotions or that sufficient stock of the product was available to meet that demand. We concluded that the ad was misleading,” the Advertising Standards Authority said in a statement.

PC World insisted as soon as it knew a lack of stock was causing problems, it took down its voucher offer, but not before selling 500 systems in two days.

Moreover, future promotions should be composed with “greater care,” the watchdog said. Their ruling was that DSG were in breach of the advertising code in terms of Truthfulness, Substantiation and Availability of Products.