ASA Adjudication on The Symphony Group plc
The Symphony Group plc
Pen Hill Estate
Park Spring Road
1 August 2012
Point of sale, Poster
Number of complaints:
Four posters, a brochure and a leaflet for Symphony products, seen in January 2012.
a. A poster was headed "NEW YEAR SALE ALL SALE RANGES HALF PRICE! Embrace by Symphony". It also featured two photographs of bedroom furniture with "50% OFF" written on each;
b. A poster stated, "NEW YEAR SALE UP TO 50% OFF" and "aQuadi by Symphony". It featured two photographs of bathrooms . Text on each stated "ASHMORE 50% OFF" and "ARTIC 50% OFF";
c. A poster stated, "SALE UP TO 50% OFF" and "gallery by Symphony. Love your kitchen";
d. A poster stated "SALE UP TO 50% OFF" and "milano by Symphony";
e. A brochure stated "BRIGHTEN YOUR DAY IN THE GALLERY SALE WITH UP TO 50% OFF" and "gallery by Symphony". Smaller text on the cover stated "50% discount applies to Albany, Charleston, Henderson, Memphis and Vermont ranges only. Only available whilst stocks last. Discount relates to doored units and worktops from the Retail Price Guide dated April 2011. All prices are UK £ and include VAT. All prices are for products supplied ready for assembly. Limited period offer. Ask in-store for details". Four kitchen styles were featured inside the brochure. The brochure also featured price comparisons such as, "This 19 Unit layout was £7,695. NOW ONLY £5,133!".
f. A leaflet stated, "SALE UP TO 50% OFF Milano by Symphony". Text inside stated, "HUGE SAVINGS ON MILANO KITCHEN UNITS AND WORKTOPS Albany You Save £3,836 ... NOW ONLY £3,837! Shaker American Walnut You Save £1,224. NOW ONLY £3,672!"
Cycene Ltd (Cycene) challenged whether the savings claims could be substantiated.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
The Symphony Group plc (Symphony) said they sold only to retailers and did not deal directly with consumers. They said they published RRP guides for all their brands, which were available to both retailers and consumers. Symphony periodically offered retailers the opportunity to buy some of their products at a discounted price and they provided posters and other promotional material to their retailers to use in their stores to enable them to promote the discounts to their customers. They did not enforce or monitor the prices at which retailers sold their goods but they considered that consumers could satisfy themselves that the savings offered were genuine by comparing the prices they were paying to those in the RRP guide. They had a 28-day period between their promotional periods and provided details of their last three promotional offers in support of this.
Symphony said they could not provide evidence of sales data between the retailer and the end consumer because they had no access to this data. Symphony provided invoices from them to their retailers showing that they had sold products to the retailers at both promotional and full prices.
The evidence submitted by Symphony did not demonstrate that the prices on which the savings claims were based were the prices at which the products were generally sold to consumers. We understood that the retailers made the final decision whether or not to offer the products at the prices suggested by Symphony; therefore the invoices and RRP guides supplied were inadequate to prove that the savings claims were based on genuine prices.
Because it was a requirement that advertisers could demonstrate savings claims were based on prices at which products were generally sold to consumers, and Symphony were unable to do this, we concluded that the ads were misleading.
The ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.39 and 3.40 (Price comparisons).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Symphony to ensure that before publishing further savings claims they were in a position to demonstrate that those savings were based on the prices at which the products had been generally sold.