National Advertising Division Finds HelloFresh “Flexible Plans” Claim Supported; Recommends Clear and Conspicuous Disclosure of “16 Free Meals” Material Terms
May 24, 2023
New York, NY – May 24, 2023 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that Grocery Delivery E-Services USA, Inc. (HelloFresh) supported the claim “Flexible Plans, Less Hassle: Add extra meals to any week’s order, change your delivery day or menu preferences, skip a week or cancel anytime” for its subscription-based meal kits.
However, in connection with claims offering “16 Free Meals,” NAD determined that certain material terms and limitations did not appear consistently throughout HelloFresh’s advertising. Therefore, NAD recommended modification of the advertising to clearly and conspicuously disclose such information in close proximity to the “free” claims.
NAD also recommended that HelloFresh modify or discontinue its flash sale claims and countdown timer unless the sale or offer is time sensitive.
HelloFresh offers consumers weekly meal kits to be cooked at home. Customers agree to receive their meal kits for a weekly sum until they affirmatively cancel their subscription.
Through its routine monitoring program, NAD challenged express claims associated with HelloFresh’s continuity plans.
“16 Free Meals” Claims
In certain challenged advertisements, material terms relating to HelloFresh’s “16 Free Meals” offer appeared in a hyperlinked disclosure labeled “Learn more” next to the claim on the website.
NAD has found that such hyperlinks may not adequately alert consumers to the nature of the material limitations associated with the continuity plan. Consequently, NAD determined that the hyperlinked “learn more” disclosure does not sufficiently limit the messages reasonably conveyed, namely that consumers will receive 16 meals once they sign up for HelloFresh and that those meals will be delivered with free shipping.
NAD recommended the following information be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in close proximity to the “free” claims:
- That free meals are spread across multiple shipments and that free shipping applies only to the first shipment;
- That the free offer is available to only new customers;
- That the subscription continues until a customer affirmatively cancels; and
- That the savings vary based on the meal plan chosen.
“Flash Sale” and “Don’t Miss Out”
NAD determined that HelloFresh’s reference to a “Flash Sale” in Google search results, combined with a countdown timer in connection with claiming the offer (or a reference to “Don’t Miss Out”), reasonably conveys the message that consumers must claim the offer as quickly as possible because it is only available for a limited time.
NAD has held that when an advertiser represents that an offer is available to the public for a limited time only, the offer should be available only for the limited time promoted and the advertiser should take steps to ensure that subsequent advertising making the same (or substantially the same) offer is not disseminated for a reasonable period of time thereafter.
Therefore, NAD recommended that HelloFresh modify or discontinue its flash sale claims and countdown timer unless the sale or offer is time sensitive.
“Flexible Plans, Less Hassle”
In assessing how easy it is for consumers to cancel a subscription, NAD considered HelloFresh’s explanation of the methods available to consumers to make changes with respect to modifying the order, the frequency of deliveries, and the size of orders as well as cancellation of the service. NAD found the processes were easy for consumers to follow and determined that HelloFresh’s “flexible plans” claim was supported.
In its advertiser statement, HelloFresh stated that it “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations, although it disagrees with its findings as to certain disclosures.” HelloFresh further expressed its appreciation that “NAD correctly found the claim ‘Flexible Plans, Less Hassle: Add extra meals to any week’s order, change your delivery day or menu preferences, skip a week or cancel anytime’ supported and non-misleading” and “that NAD’s recommendations permit it to continue promoting its free meal offers with certain modifications.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs, a non-profit organization, is the home of U.S. independent industry self-regulation, currently operating more than a dozen globally recognized programs that have been helping enhance consumer trust in business for more than 50 years. These programs provide third-party accountability and dispute resolution services that address existing and emerging industry issues, create a fairer playing field for businesses, and a better experience for consumers. BBB National Programs continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-and-teen-directed marketing, data privacy, dispute resolution, automobile warranty, technology, and emerging areas. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.