Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market

Toolstation ad found to be 'misleading'

Published: 15 September 2010
A TV ad for hardware stockist Toolstation has been branded 'misleading' by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Toolstation ad found to be 'misleading'
The ad featured staff members and trade customers dancing and singing to the tune of the hokey-kokey. The song contained the lyrics "with over 10,000 products every one from stock, there's almost nothing we're without".

A voice-over then stated: "At Toolstation every item we sell is available from stock, check for yourself online." On-screen text said: "Order before 5pm. Stock sourced from local branch or main warehouse within 24hrs."

However one viewer, who had visited the Toolstation website and found a number of items were out of stock, questioned whether the ad was misleading.

Toolstation Ltd said the key message of the ad was that Toolstation was a reliable business and that the products offered in its catalogue were not made-to-order, delivered from third parties or sourced only once they had been ordered. The company said its commitment was to supply directly from its own stock and that this commitment was made clear on their website and in its printed catalogue.

The company added that it had an internal target to be 100% in-stock and that it consistently achieved extremely high stock levels across its main warehouse and more than 60 branches. It said the largest proportion of its stock was held at the main warehouse which existed solely to supply its branches within 24 hours, and that that stock was therefore not made available on the website.

Toolstation said a large proportion of its business was conducted via its branches, and that the ad only promoted this aspect of the business. The company maintained the website was described only as a means of checking branch stock, rather than a means of ordering stock.

However, the ASA said it considered the claim "At Toolstation every item we sell is available from stock, check for yourself online" and the on-screen text "Stock sourced from local branch or main warehouse within 24hrs" and the text "order direct by phone, web or collect" displayed on a poster in the ad, would be interpreted by viewers to mean that items sold by Toolstation would either be available at its branches or online, or could be sourced from its warehouse within 24hrs.

The ASA understood, however, that it was not the case that Toolstation could guarantee that all its stock would be available at every branch, on its website or from its warehouse within this time period.

The ad was found to be breaching TV advertising standards and cannot appear again in its current form.

Comments

Published prior to March 2014
By John James
Misleading claims of availability are all too typical and give the consumer an unfair comparison against other businesses who genuinely do carry full ranges in stock actually on the shop floor!
Published prior to March 2014
By Peter Jones
I thought the advert was quite amusing and although maybe not strictly correct it conveid a situation which we've allways found to be true. One complaint from Yeovil makes you wonder?

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