The UK Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint about recent advertisements for discounted Barnes & Noble Nook eBook readers.
In April Barnes & Noble cut the price of the basic Nook reader from £79 to £29, advertising the product’s availability at Argos, Asda, Blackwell’s, Currys, Foyles, John Lewis, PC World, Sainsbury’s and Very.
However, a complainant said they’d been unable to purchase the item from any of the listed retailers.
Barnes & Noble admitted the product had gone out of stock at its web store and at some retailer partners, although it believed it had made a reasonable estimate of demand for the product based on recent UK sales levels. It said UK retail partners had held stock of over 20 times the previous three months’ average sales when the promotion started.
Nook sales during the promotion were over 120 times the normal sales rate, causing some retailers to quickly run out of stock. Barnes & Noble worked to distribute remaining stock evenly throughout the market, put an ‘out of stock’ message on its UK web site and stopped running its press ad in early May.
Despite this the ASA upheld the complaint, noting that that Barnes & Noble had not provided it with sufficient evidence to show the stock estimate was reasonable. Although Barnes & Noble had based its estimate on recent UK sales data, the ASA considered that B&N should have based the estimate on responses to a previous similar offer.