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PC World ordered to rip up promo for next-day repair promise

Watchdog bans blurb after bloke's PC troubles

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PC World has been ordered by the UK ads watchdog to pull claims it offers a next-day collection service for repairs under its Care Plan Premier warranty.

Pcworld.co.uk boasted that the biz would pick up a customer's dicky gear the following day if the punter called before 3pm and had shelled out for the aforementioned warranty. The retailer's website also compared this service favourably to similar packages offered by its rivals.

But a member of the public challenged the online blurb in a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and claimed the offer was misleading and could not be substantiated.

He told the watchdog that he wanted his PC to be picked up the next day for repairs, but after a phone call to PC World he instead decided to take the machine into the shop himself. The store was unable to explain exactly why this happened, because it had not kept detailed notes of the conversation, but the chap evidently left aggrieved to the extent that he lodged a complaint.

PC World insisted it could have fetched the computer from the complainant, had paperwork to prove it had available time slots to pick up the hardware, and that 23 other customers who called that day had their kit collected. But the watchdog ruled the data "was not sufficient to demonstrate that calls that requested collections of items covered by a plan were received at the dates and times referred to or when the collections were completed".

The ASA also rejected PC World's argument that the complaint was really a contract dispute rather than a problem with the advertising. Protestations that the anonymous complainant had used the retailer's repair service previously without issue also failed to cut any ice.

The complainant had signed up to a warranty called Whatever Happens Premier, which was later renamed to Whatever Happens Care Plan Premier; the Whatever Happens Premier service was advertised as "next day courier collection... call before 3 pm" whereas Whatever Happens Care Plan Premier offered the slightly different "next day collection … call before 3pm".

PC World said it was always changing its warranty terms, and as such newer products had different benefits - for example, the Care Plan offers remote fixes and a laptop on loan for PC system repairs. The retailer argued there was no reason to determine the service was misleadingly advertised from just a single grievance.

However the ASA upheld the complaint after ruling that a "snapshot" of calls from the same area as the complainant on the same day was not enough to support PC World's advertised promise.

"Data, which related to calls received on only one day and in one area, was not sufficient to demonstrate that consumers with the advertised care plan generally had their items collected the next day when they called before 3 pm," the ASA stated in its adjudication. "For the reasons given, we considered the claim had not been substantiated and therefore concluded that the ad breached the code [of practice]."

The decision means PC World cannot no longer run the offending blurb, at least in its current form. The ASA told the retailer to ensure it can substantiate its claims in future. ®

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