ASA Adjudication on B&Q plc
1 Hampshire Corporate Park
31 August 2011
Number of complaints:
The front page of a brochure for a sales promotion on kitchens, which appeared in March 2011, stated "kitchens Price Guide Valid from Tuesday 1st March. Product details, order codes and prices for kitchen cabinets and doors. 25% OFF ALL kitchen cabinets. PLUS: 25% off selected worktops, sinks and taps. PLUS: a FREE Smeg Integrated Dishwasher (DI612CA9) when you spend over £1,500 on your kitchen*. See online or ask in-store for details."
The complainant, who visited his local B&Q store on 13 April, challenged whether the ad was misleading because it did not state a closing date for the offer.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
B&Q did not believe that the ad was misleading and they did not believe that the lack of a closing date was disadvantageous to consumers in any way. They believed that the CAP Code allowed them not to include a closing date provided they did not disadvantage consumers by doing so.
B&Q explained that the offer ran for five weeks – from 1 March to 7 April – which they considered to be a significant period. They believed that consumers would have understood that percentage savings, such as those advertised, were time limited and that consumers would after several weeks look online or check in store to see whether the offer was still available. They noted that the ad directed consumers to check online or visit a store.
B&Q said that the end date for the offer was not known at the time the ad appeared but they had intended for the promotion to run for at least four weeks. They also said that they always sought to include a closing date in their advertising where it would be disadvantageous to consumers not to do so.
The ASA noted B&Q's response that the absence of a closing date did not necessarily breach the CAP Code. However, we noted that the Code allowed closing dates not to be included only if by doing so, consumers were not disadvantaged. We understood that the promotion ran for five weeks but, at the time the ad appeared, B&Q did not know how long it would run. We also noted that the complainant visited the store one week after the promotion had ended and that he was unable to take advantage of the offer. We noted he was not aware that the offer had expired until he visited his local store.
We considered that the closing date was material information that was likely to affect a consumer's decision on whether or not to make a purchase from B&Q. Although the ad directed consumers to visit the B&Q website or to visit their local store for more information about the offer, we considered that the claim "see online or ask in-store for more details" was likely to be interpreted by consumers to mean that the website and store provided further detail about the promotion and not necessarily, that they would need to do that in order to find out about the closing date. We did not consider the claim was sufficiently clear in alerting consumers to the fact that they would need to check whether or not the promotion was still available. We considered that the ad omitted material information and that the complainant had been disadvantaged by the lack of it. Because of that, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 8.17.4c (Significant conditions for Promotions).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told B&Q to include a closing date for sales promotions when known and where the promotional period is not known, we told them to include prominent qualifying text that directed consumers how to find out more information about the closing date.