ASA Adjudication on CarpetCleaning.org.uk
94 Valley Road
2 November 2011
Internet (search engine), Internet (on own site)
Number of complaints:
A website for a carpet cleaning service, viewed in July 2011, featured a price list for the various cleaning services offered and boxed text that stated "LAST CHANCE! GET YOUR £10 NOW!".
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the prices stated on the website were misleading and could be substantiated, because when she contacted the advertiser she was quoted higher prices; and
2. the website was misleading, because it did not make clear that a 10% surcharge applied to certain postcode areas and that the £10 discount only applied to quotes over £100.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. CarpetCleaning.org.uk (Carpet Cleaning) said the website had been recently updated and that, due to an error, the link to their terms and conditions, which contained pricing information, had not been updated. They said, for that reason, the complainant was given different pricing information over the phone than appeared on the website. Carpet Cleaning provided a copy of the old version of the website that showed the link to the terms and conditions.
2. Carpet Cleaning explained that the surcharge only applied to areas where there were problems with free/pre-paid parking spaces. They said the surcharge applied when they were informed that parking might be a problem for their technicians, which could mean that the service would be delayed whilst they tried to find a parking space. They said that information was explained in the terms and conditions, and they had reminded their call centre staff of the correct reason for the surcharge.
The ASA noted Carpet Cleaning's response, but understood from the complainant that the basic price they were quoted for the service they requested was greater than that listed on the website. We noted that the price list that set out the itemised cost for the cleaning services offered on the website had remained unchanged, and also noted that we had not seen evidence that demonstrated that the prices listed on the website were genuine. We therefore concluded that the prices had not been substantiated and were misleading.
We noted that the surcharge applied in those circumstances where there might be difficulty parking near the customer's property. We considered, however, that information about the surcharge should have been made clear to customers on the pricing page of the website, in order that they would be aware of what the overall cost of taking up the advertised service was likely to be. Furthermore, we considered that customers would interpret the claim "GET YOUR £10 NOW" to mean that the £10 discount was available on all orders, but understood from the terms and conditions that the discount only applied to orders over £100. We therefore also considered that information about the qualifying spend should have been made clear to consumers at the point that the offer was introduced to them on the home page. Because it was not, and because the surcharge was not made clear to consumers on the pricing page, we concluded that on this point the ad was misleading.
On points 1 and 2, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.17 (Prices).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told CarpetCleaning.org.uk to make sure prices listed on their website reflected the actual prices customers were charged for those services. We also told them to include details of the parking surcharge on the price page and to make clear if a qualifying spend applied to the £10 discount at the point that the offer was introduced to the consumer on their webpage.