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27 September 2023, 15:21

ASA Finds The Diesel Car Company’s Ad for Renault Zoe Misleading Over Hidden Fees

ASA Finds The Diesel Car Company’s Ad for Renault Zoe Misleading Over Hidden Fees

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against an advertisement by The Diesel Car Company, trading as Driving Cleaner Cars, for not including a compulsory £199 administration fee in the advertised price of a 2020 Renault Zoe GT Line. The listing, which appeared on the AA Cars website on March 7, 2023, displayed the vehicle's price as “£15,300” without accounting for the additional fee required from all buyers.

The complaint was raised after the consumer was asked to pay the admin fee on top of the listed price, leading to questions about the transparency of the vehicle’s total cost. In response to the ASA inquiry, Driving Cleaner Cars acknowledged the admin fee but attributed the oversight to issues with the AA Cars website's handling of their feed, suggesting either a technical glitch or a lack of adequate space to display the extra charge.

AA Cars, operated by Used Car Sites Ltd, countered by stating that neither Driving Cleaner Cars nor their feed provider had supplied the necessary details to include the admin fee in the total price displayed on the listing. They emphasized that under their terms and conditions, dealers are obliged to ensure their listings comply with the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code and promised to review their platform to remind dealers of their responsibilities regarding advertisement content.

The ASA's assessment concluded that consumers would naturally interpret the stated “£15,300” as the total cost of the car, inclusive of all mandatory taxes, duties, fees, and charges applicable to the majority of buyers. The requirement for an additional £199 admin fee at the point of sale, not included in the advertised price, was deemed a clear violation of CAP Code rules regarding misleading advertising and pricing.

As a result, the ASA has mandated that the advertisement must not be published again in its current form and instructed The Diesel Car Company to ensure all future marketing communications comprehensively disclose any non-optional fees to avoid misleading potential buyers.

This ruling underscores the importance of transparency in vehicle pricing and the need for dealerships to fully disclose all costs upfront in their advertisements. It serves as a reminder to consumers to be vigilant and to dealers to adhere strictly to advertising standards to maintain trust and compliance in the automotive market.

Notes to the editor

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