Carphone Warehouse thwacked by UK Advertising watchdog for a Cyber Monday wobble

Customers spared from buying an iPhone while credit scoring system had a lie-down

UK phone-slinger The Carphone Warehouse has received a slap on the wrist from the Brit advertising watchdog after an offer proved a tad too popular.

angry man

Carphone Warehouse fined £29m for mis-selling mobile insurance to punters who didn't need it


In news that will warm the heart of Tim Cook, the oversubscribed offer in question was for an iPhone XR, replete with 100GB of data and no upfront handset cost for the princely sum of £36 per month.

The deal appeared on the company's orifice in November 2018 as part of the marketing-driven online shopping frenzy known as "Cyber Monday".

However, some punters attempting to pick up one of Apple's hefty handsets found their orders could not be processed. This was caused, according to the retailer, by the Cook-pleasuringly high volume of orders the promotion had attracted.

The popularity resulted in a backlog of processing credit checks, resulting in some customers failing a credit check "in error" even if their credit score was healthy.

Not passing the check meant no shiny new Apple toy for you, sunshine.

While explained it had done its best with its network provider to deal with the problem and posted an update on its site to the effect that orders were being delayed due to the demand, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) reckoned it simply wasn't good enough, and upheld the complaint.

The problem was that had not, according to the ASA, made it clear on its site that things were tottering as soon it noted problems and had not notified those whose transactions had been declined that there was a problem with the credit check.

Result? Don't do it again. And if things do start to get wobbly as fondle-fanciers seek to jump on deals for the latest shiny, the vendor "must ensure relevant timely communication with applicants".

Things have not been going well for the retailer, as Dixons Carphone reported like-for-like revenue for mobile in the UK and Ireland down by 7 per cent for the 10 weeks to 5 January 2019. Halfway through fiscal 2019, it reported a £440m statutory loss after writing down the goodwill of its mobile division. The company also announced a culling of its Carphone Warehouse outlets earlier in 2018.

The woe continued last week with a £29m fine for flogging insurance to customers that didn’t really need it. That, of course, was between 2008 and 2015, so aaaaages ago.

For that Carphone Warehouse said it "accepted that in the past the company's practices fell short".

As for the latest spanking, a spokesperson for had the following to say:

We're disappointed by the ASA's decision but we take on board their recommendation to increase the level of communication to customers if something similar were to happen again.

At the time of the promotion, we worked with the network provider to resolve the issue, re-run credit checks and extend the duration of the offer to help customers who had experienced issues. We corresponded with customers directly via email, phone and social media, and also had messaging on our website, together with high-profile updates in the media.


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