The advertising watchdog has upheld a complaint against Conde Nast’s House and Garden magazine over a subscription promotion it ran offering to give readers free Molton Brown products.
The Advertising Standards Authority told the publisher it was duty bound to issue substitute gifts of an equivalent value after receiving complaints from a customer who signed up to receive 12 issues of the magazine and free toiletries, only to get a notebook in lieu of the advertised gift.
Conde Nast said response to its subscription offer had exceeded expectation by 50 per cent leading to some subscribers being sent replacement gifts.
The publisher said the notebook sent to the complainant was a limited edition item specifically designed for House and Garden that could retail for substantially more than the toiletries offered.
However, it agreed it should not have been used as a replacement gift as part of the promotion and said it believed the gift was either mailed following a handling error or was an additional gift.
The ASA said: “Consumers who were unable to receive the free gift from Molton Brown, as advertised, should have received a substitute gift of equivalent value.
“We noted substitute gifts were drawn from unexhausted stock from previous campaigns, and that some of them had an RRP of approximately £10 more than the Molton Brown gift advertised and some had an RRP of approximately £10 less.
“We acknowledged House and Garden’s explanation that the decorator’s notebook sent to the complainant as a substitute gift had been sent following a handling error, but nevertheless considered that, because not all subscribers had received a free gift of equivalent value to the Molton Brown gift advertised, the promotion had not dealt fairly with consumers.”