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Meet Bob. Bob has received marketing messages on 5 different days this week from a business telling him that it's his last chance or "final call" to sign up for service where he can get promotional price of £5 for the first month until midnight that night.

Suppose Bob had signed up on this basis and then saw the next day's marketing message suggesting that in fact it hadn't been his last chance after all.

Is Bob entitled to any remedies, both in the case where he bought something, and that in which he didn't?

I'm interested in answers pertaining to any jurisdiction at all.

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The Advertising Standards Authority is the body in the UK that regulates advertising, and is backstopped legally by Trading Standards.

In both the "CAP" code that covers non-broadcast media (leaflets, print adverts, signage etc) and the "BCAP" code that covers broadcast media such as radio, TV etc there is in section 3 "Misleading Advertising" the following (emphasis mine):

3.31

Marketing communications must not falsely claim that the marketer is about to cease trading or move premises. They must not falsely state that a product, or the terms on which it is offered, will be available only for a very limited time to deprive consumers of the time or opportunity to make an informed choice.

And the "Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations" have this to say under the list headed "The following practices are banned outright":

6. Limited time only

Falsely stating that a product will only be available for a very limited time, or that it will only be available on particular terms for a very limited time, in order to elicit an immediate decision and deprive consumers of sufficient opportunity or time to make an informed choice.

Both of which would seem to apply here. Of course where Bob has purchased I expect any liability the seller would have would be likely limited to the cost of the product/service. Where Bob hasn't purchased anything? Bob could of course bring the misleading advertising to the attention of the ASA who may act regardless, they don't care whether Bob has purchased anything or not, of course Bob probably wouldn't get any compensation or the like because they have no damages.

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  • What are the penalties to the business? Oct 18, 2022 at 18:29
  • And what is meant by "backstopped"? Oct 18, 2022 at 19:01
  • @JosephCorrectEnglishPronouns by backstopped here I'm meaning that Trading Standards are the body with the legal powers to impose penalties etc. As for what the penalties are - it would depend heavily on the nature of severity of what was done, but it could range from a fine to a fraud prosecution, potentially even prison for an egregious scenario. For your example? I'd hazard a guess at a metaphorical slap on the wrist and/or a fine but that's just a layperson guess. Oct 19, 2022 at 8:13
  • Is it illegal to sell a bicycle for half price for a week only, and advertise that, if the price gets raised again after the week?
    – gnasher729
    Oct 19, 2022 at 20:46

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