American book retailer Barnes & Noble has come under fire from the Advertising Standards Authority over a nationwide campaign for its Nook e-reader which went out of stock immediately.
The press campaign advertised the device for a wallet friendly £29.99, a £50 discount on the RRP of £79, describing the offer as ‘fact not fiction’.
For disgruntled consumers seeking to snap up a bargain the offer did prove to be fictional however, as no Nook’s were available at that price.
Stock had been distributed to nine retailers including Asda, John Lewis and Argos but Barnes & Noble had massively underestimated demand. Predicted to have raised sales by up to a factor of 20 it in fact presaged a rush of 120 times the normal sales rate.
Introduced on 24 April the campaign had to be prematurely curtailed on 3 May when stock became depleted.
Commenting on the case the ASA said: "The [advertising] code stated that promoters must be able to demonstrate that they had made a reasonable estimate of the likely response and that they were capable of meeting it," said the ASA. "We told Barnes & Noble to ensure that when running promotions in future they ensured they made a reasonable estimate of the likely response to the offer."