Fast fashion retailers warned over use of countdown clocks

Three of the UK’s online fast fashion players – Boohoo, I Saw it First, and Miss Pap – have been warned about their conduct by the advertising standards watchdog.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had upheld complaints about the three businesses’ ad conduct over the last seven months. Two ads each from Boohoo and I Saw it First have been banned, as well as one from Miss Pap.

Boohoo was deemed to have misled customers with an ‘Up to 60% off everything’ ad claim in November 2019, as well as its usage of a countdown clock offer the same month. Six consumer complaints were made in total.

At I Saw it First, a text message received by customers on 6 October 2019, which stated “QUICK, 75% OFF EVERYTHING…” was deemed misleading as it didn’t cover all products, while an offer in January using a countdown clock to encourage a quick purchase actually continued once the countdown reached zero.

Meanwhile, on Miss Pap’s website in January, a product offer implied the price would revert to a higher level once the countdown was over, when it actually continued at a better price once the timer reached zero.

All the retailers defended their ad techniques, although Boohoo and I Saw it First acknowledged certain misuse of countdown clocks. The former said after an internal review it would not use countdown clocks in ads unless the offer varied on their expiry, while the latter cited a maintenance issue at the time in regard to its use of the technology.

The ASA also said today that it had upheld complaints about two paid-for posts for Card Factory appearing on TV celebrity Stacey Solomon's Instagram story, seen in November 2019, which it said were not clearly enough labelled as ads.