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ASA rules against advert describing pre-registered cars as 'new'

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a car retailer’s adverts which described pre-registered vehicles as 'new' after a complaint branded the marketing as "misleading".

The ASA investiged the website of car retailer Auto Union Finance/New-Car-Discount after the complainant argued that the listing of several pre-registered vehicles under its ‘New Vans’ and ‘New Cars’ web pages was misleading.

In the latest rulings published on March 4 by the ASA, it found that the company had breached the rules on advertising and issued it with a ban on the advert.

The homepage of New-Car-Discount featured tables labelled ‘New Vans’, ‘New Cars’ and ‘Pre Reg’, where a number of vehicles were offered.

The ASA said that it considered that consumers would understand that the vehicles listed under ‘New Cars’ and ‘New Vans’ tabs were brand new, unregistered vehicles.

However, whilst ‘New Cars’ and ‘New Van’s did list brand new, unregistered vehicles, they also contained pre-registered vehicles that had also been listed separately under the ‘Pre Reg’ page.

The ASA said that there was no information under the ‘New Cars’ or ‘New Vans’ pages which notified a consumer whether a listed vehicle was pre-registered.

It concluded that the ad must not appear again in its current form and it told Auto Union Finance/New-Car-Discount to ensure that it did not mislead consumers by creating the impression that a product was a brand new, unregistered vehicle, if that was not the case.

The ASA advised that the prominent qualifying information was given to notify consumers when a vehicle was pre-registered.

A spokesperson from Auto Union Finance/New-Car-Discount said the ‘New Cars’ and ‘New Vans’ section of their website offered vehicles which they factory-ordered to a customer’s exact specification, whereas the ‘Pre-Reg’ section contained vehicles already registered by the manufacturer historically, but were still effectively new, unused, had never been driven and had zero mileage.

The company said that four of the vehicles it offered at the time the ad was seen were pre-registered and believed that consumers would understand that the vehicles listed under the ‘New Cars’ and ‘New Vans’ tabs were brand new, unregistered vehicles, but did not believe that they would necessarily expect to be the first named on the registration documents in every case.

It said that factory ordering a vehicle that was ‘yet to be registered’ did not affect a vehicle’s warranty, insurance or breakdown cover as those vehicles were supplied with a full manufacturer’s warranty and breakdown cover and a full 12 months’ Road Fund Licence.

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