A local small business owner who advertised a hot deal on one of those bargain websites has been charged for false advertising after grossly misleading the public. The man, Rick Harris, was offering 30-minute “Harley Rides” for just $20 – and the deal was so hot that it sold out within the first hour.
However, customers reacted angrily when they started turning up for their bargain motorbike rides and Harris told them “Harley” was actually the name of his pet Shetland Pony, on which they were about to ride around a small paddock for 30 minutes. It’s fair to say that this was not the type of horse power that online shoppers believed they were paying for, and this led to hundreds of complaints being lodged with the ombudsman.
In a hearing today, Harris argued that he’d done nothing wrong, and was genuinely surprised by the widespread backlash of what he said was “actually a great deal”. He claimed that the actual advertisement was not misleading, and people just misunderstood what the offer was. The original ad read:
30 minutes on a Harley for only $20
Feel the horse power between your legs as you cruise around the countryside on the back of my unique Harley. The perfect gift for both old and young.
Whilst the judge hearing the case agreed that those words could technically be applied to both a pony and a motorcycle ride, he told Harris that the main image on the ad of a glistening Harley Davidson was “extremely misleading to customers”. With that in mind, Harris was charged for false advertising, ordered to provide all customers with a full refund, and was fined $3,000.