Are Blockbuster guilty of false advertising?
You’ve got to hand it to Blockbuster. They are still in business in the modern age of TV and media, although they have now wisely dropped the “Video” from their name. However, it seems that their continued success may be down to a kind of bait and switch with gamers. Either that or it's plain and simple false advertising.
Avid Bitterwallet reader Danny wrote to us after reading his current issue of Gamesmaster magazine. He noticed that Blockbuster had a full page advertisement in the mag, offering 5 day game rental for £5. Fairly simple offer, hard to get wrong.
However, when Danny went to his local Blockbuster to rent the latest computer game of his heart’s desire, he found that the price had changed. It was no longer £5 for 5 days, it was £6 for 5 days. Which is far less catchy a price point, and more importantly, is a 20% price increase.
So Danny went back and checked his magazine. It definitely said £5 for 5 days. He checked the date of his magazine- it was the current issue and the next one is not out until 9 October, almost 2 weeks away. Danny was confused.
Now, we thought what you are all thinking. Those pesky terms and conditions in the white box at the bottom of the ad probably say something like “prices subject to change” or “deal available until…”. Danny thought of that too. The terms say nothing of the sort. Danny tried contacting Blockbuster to ask them about it. They ignored him.
So we asked Blockbuster ourselves, offering them the excuse that it was a mistake, either in the advert or in Danny’s local store. They did not take our easy way out, leaving us to conclude this is a deliberate ploy to get people in the store by advertising one price, despite the fact that this price is not actually available. This seems to breach a number of clauses in section 3 of the Advertising Code, which ought to be upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.
So what price is your local Blockbuster charging? Danny’s store had clearly been charging the higher price for some time, and had the corporate-style labels to prove it.