A leaflet for Lidl featured an image of a dining table with two chairs on one side of the table and a bench on the opposite side in a living room setting. The image depicted a blanket on the bench, a vase of flowers and a tray of tumblers on the table. A couch and curtains are visible in the background. The caption read:
Dining Table & Chairs
The complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading as, after purchase, they were informed that the chairs were not included in the offer as stated in the advertisement.
The advertisers said that Lidl is committed to full compliance with the provisions of the Code in its advertising practices and that it was never their intention to seek to mislead or exploit the credulity of their valued customers.
They said that they investigated the complaint and reviewed the relevant advertisement, and they acknowledged the complainant’s contention that the product in question was advertised as “Dining Table & Chairs €49.99”.
The advertisers said that while they constantly strive to ensure the context of their advertisements is accurate and appropriate as per Section 2.4 (c) of the Code, on this occasion the inaccuracy was the result of human error. They said that as evident from the advertisement, there were a number of other furnishings in the picture (e.g. glass tumblers, flower vase, fur effect throw/ blanket) the purpose of which was to convey a ‘homely’ feeling to make the advertisement more aesthetically appealing, but that these items were never intended for sale or inclusion with the two products on offer. They confirmed that the two dining chairs shown next to the dining table in the advertisement were also featured for aesthetic purposes only and were not intended to form part of the products on offer.
Regrettably, they said, when the advertisement was being finalised, the dining chairs were erroneously taken to be included as part of a set by the marketing team creating the leaflet – an error which was subsequently reflected in the advertisement in question.
The advertisers apologised for the confusion caused to their customers and said that it was their understanding that a full refund was offered to the complainant. They iterated that the error was in no way a deliberate attempt to mislead their customers. They said that the company’s marketing professionals assured them that they follow a strict 4-eye protocol to ensure that errors are kept to a minimum and that, unfortunately, on this occasion it appears an error was missed.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response and apology.
The Committee noted that the Code required that care should be taken to ensure that prices and illustrated products match and in the circumstances the Committee considered the advertisement was in breach of sections 4.1, and 4.22 of the Code.