Dell Accused of False Advertising in the UK

An advertising board ruling could force all printer vendors to advertise "cables not included."

A United Kingdom advertising standards group has accused Texas-based Dell of false advertising, and stipulated that all printer vendors should include the cost of cables in advertised prices of systems.

The Advertising Standards Authority called Dell to task July 10 for a common practice among print and IT vendors, saying it failed to include the cable costs in its ads. The group ordered Dell to make amends for a newspaper ad for the vendors Photo All-In-One Printer 926 that failed to include the cost of the cable in the price.

Dell claimed it assumed most customers would already have such a cable and would not need to buy a new one, but the ASA called the omission a violation of the Committees of Advertising Practice and ordered it to clear up the claims.

The ASA, whose powers extend to UK advertising content only, said in an e-mail that they expect their wishes to be noticed and that if Dell chooses to ignore the ASAs ruling, they might decide to send the complaint over to the Office of Fair Trading, which is able to prosecute advertisers under the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations.

"The point here is that we consider that consumers would expect the cable to be included in that package unless it was otherwise stated," said Donna Mitchell, a spokesperson for the ASA.

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said the case could change the way technology and consumer electronics are advertised.

"Game systems, DVD players and VCRs also often do not include cables and will likely be hit by similar rulings," Enderle said. "It just means the industry will need to be more transparent with regard to what is and is not included. Strangely enough, it probably will lead to happier customers for the firms who were not providing the cables in the first place."


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