Craft beer subscription service pulled up for misleading advertising

Beer subscription service Beer52 has been reprimanded by the UK’s advertising watchdog for falsely claiming people had “credit” in their dormant accounts.

Beer52, one of the early pioneers of the beer delivery subscription business, has had a complaint against an offer on one of its bundles upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.

A customer flagged up an email offer that was sent in March this year, which gave people who used to use Beer51 a £19 discount on an “Island of Ireland” bundle of craft beers that was created to coincide with St Patrick’s Day. The website’s 10-beer cases cost £29 per month, so the idea being a customer would only pay £10 for their first case, and full-price for the next package, although users can cancel or pause their subscription at any time.

Clicking on the linked text within the email took the recipient to a landing page on the Beer52 website, which then stated: “You cancelled your account on [DATE]. Reactivate your account and get these beers now! You have £19 credit in your account!”. An image of ten bottles and cans of beer was also accompanied by text which stated “10 beers, magazine, snack Pay £10 now, then £29 / month”.

The complainant argued that “You have £19 credit in your account” was misleading, because it implied that the email recipient had £19 in credit on their account, when in reality they were being offered £19 off the Ireland beer package.

Defending the advert, Beer52 said the £19 credit could be used only towards their monthly ten-pack of beer subscription plan which cost £29 per pack. The website said describing it as “credit” was not misleading, and that they also offered credit to customers for a variety of reasons including loyalty, or issues with past deliveries.

However, Beer52 also sells packs of eight as part of its subscription plans, while customers are also able to buy beer individually and in multipacks on a non-subscription basis.

The ASA therefore ruled that previous customers who received the email could reasonably believe that if they signed up they would have “credit” in their account to spend how they chose, or even have refunded to them, rather than it just being another way of referencing the discount offer in their original email.

Furthermore, the watchdog also thought consumers could have reasonably assumed thay had not only £19 “credit” to spend or withdraw, but that this would be in addition to the offer in the email. The ASA told Beer52 not to use the word “credit” again when referencing a discount on a specific product.

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