ASA Adjudication on GSF Car Parts Ltd
GSF Car Parts Ltd
The Fort Industrial Park
15 August 2012
Number of complaints:
A radio ad for a car parts company stated "At GSF we can't help you fit a car part, but we can help you nail it. We stock thousands of quality parts for all makes of cars. We've experts on hand to track down the right part on the phone and a dedicated delivery team that will get those parts to you on time. At GSF Car Parts we get it. You don't even have to be trade to save, we're open to the public with in many cases up to 70% off dealer prices".
The complainant challenged whether the claim "up to 70% off dealer prices" was misleading, because he understood that the advertiser did not sell the same branded products that the dealers sold.
GSF Car Parts Ltd (GSF) said the ad did not suggest that they sold the same boxed brands as those sold at vehicle main dealers. They said parts were provided to the vehicle manufacturers by Original Equipment (OE) parts manufacturers for use in vehicle assembly and that the same manufacturers provided Original Equipment Spares (OES) which were used by the dealers when parts needed to be replaced. They said that EU Regulations required OES parts to be of at least matching quality and specification to those fitted by the vehicle manufacturer and they said a large proportion of the parts they sold were OES, which meant they should not invalidate the vehicle manufacturer's warranty. They said they also sold slightly lower "aftermarket" quality parts, own brand parts and remanufactured parts to ensure they offered consumers a choice of price and quality levels. They believed main dealers would in some cases also use aftermarket quality parts to allow them to compete at a lower price level.
GSF Car Parts said they subscribed to an analysis tool that monitored main dealer parts prices and allowed them to update their price files monthly so they could provide customers with a comparison when requested. They provided the price comparison file which showed the type of each of their parts used in the comparison (OES, aftermarket, own brand or remanufactured) and they believed it was reasonable on the strength of that evidence to state "in many cases up to 70% off dealer prices".
The RACC emphasised that the ad had stated GSF would be up to 70% cheaper than the dealers "in many cases".
The ASA considered that listeners would understand the claim "… in many cases, up to 70% off dealer prices" to mean that GSF would be cheaper than main dealers on a wide range of products and that they would be 70% cheaper on a proportion of those products. We considered that listeners would not necessarily expect the comparison to be based on identical branded products, but that they would expect the products compared to be substantially equivalent in terms of quality.
We noted from the comparative information supplied that GSF were 70% cheaper than the main dealers for some OES parts. We noted that the number of occasions on which they were 70% cheaper increased significantly when they included their own aftermarket products in the comparison. However, we noted that the comparison tool did not identify whether the dealers' price was for an OES or aftermarket quality part. We understood that main dealers predominantly used OES parts and we therefore considered it likely that the tool had compared a number of GSF's aftermarket quality parts with main dealer OES parts. We understood that the quality of aftermarket parts could vary and we therefore considered that, by relying in part on a comparison of aftermarket with OES parts, the ad was likely to mislead.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.2 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Substantiation), 3.38 (Comparisons) and 3.39 (Price comparisons).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.