How fresh is your website?

New Zealand news site Stuff reports that an Auckland restaurant has been fined $3,000 for advertising out-of-date prices and dishes on its website. The owner of a Hendersonrestaurant pleaded guilty to breaching the NZ Fair Trading Act in relation to misleading availability and menu prices over a six-month period.

A Commerce Commission investigation had revealed that many of the meals advertised on the website were not actually available for order at the restaurant, and others were not available at the listed price. In some circumstances, the website price varied between 17 and 36 per cent cheaper than the actual in-house menu.

The Commerce Commission took a tough line in its submissions: “It is not enough to allow the restaurant owner to say that the website is outdated for reasons of lack of time or lack of technical knowledge, especially given the growth of this form of advertising and the potential reach of the misleading information.”

Run, do not walk, to your nearest keyboard and dust off your company URL. Did you really intend to still show that page labelled “Coming in Early 2002″? Is that 1999 catalogue (“we’ll leave it up because somebody might want to refer to it”) an asset or a newfound legal liability?

Let’s face it, the web might sometimes be better described as the cobweb. Mouldering pages from the dawn of internet time linger in hyperspace, forgotten by their makers but accessible to any legislator with a Google browser. Your website is probably not as blatantly outdated as that of our wayward entrepreneur, but the case is a useful wakeup call.Springclean, anyone?

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