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Dell gets knuckles rapped over TV advert

The computer giant has been taken to task over a misleading TV advert for the Inspiron laptop
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Written by Tom Espiner, Senior Reporter on

A TV ad for Dell Computer has been found to be misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The advert, which cannot be broadcast again, claimed consumers could purchase a Dell Inspiron notebook with an Intel Celeron processor for £299. On-screen text gave a Web address and a phone number.

However, the ASA received 23 complaints that the laptop was not available on the Web site for that price. The complaints said the Inspiron was listed, but priced at £349. Two complainants said the laptop was offered for £299 on the Web site but the price rose when they selected it.

Dell argued that when customers selected the laptop on the Web site they were shown a price for an "upgraded service package" that included pre-selected options. Text informed customers that they could reach the advertised price by downgrading certain elements of the package.

Dell insisted it was accepted industry practice to automatically upgrade components such as graphics cards, hard drives and monitors.

The ASA disagreed, and upheld the complaints on Wednesday. It said that because the ad featured both a phone number and a Web site address, viewers would expect the laptop to be available to purchase at the advertised price by both means when the ad was first broadcast.

The laptop was not initially available on the Web site at the advertised price, so the ASA considered the advert misleading.

"On this point the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1 (Misleading advertising), 5.2.1 (Evidence), 5.2.3 (Qualifications) and 5.3.1 (Accurate pricing)," the ASA said in a statement.

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