ASA Adjudication on Westminster Recliners
Unit 1, Gamma Terrace
Master Lord Office Village
20 February 2013
National press, Magazine
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
Two ads for a furniture retailer:
a. A national press ad stated "BUY ONE GET ONE FREE!" Further text stated "Quality Riser Recliners & Adjustable Beds at Unbeatable Prices ... Call us immediately for a free home trial or our full colour brochure". Small print in the bottom right-hand corner stated "*on premium range only".
b. Text on the website, www.wmrecliners.co.uk, stated "We are a family run business, proud of our handcrafted British made furniture ..." and "We only use the finest raw materials for the construction of our products ...".
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the offer, in ad (a), was misleading and could be substantiated, because he did not believe that a premium range existed; and
2. the claims "We are a family run business, proud of our handcrafted British made furniture ..." and "We only use the finest raw materials for the construction of our products", which appeared in ad (b), were misleading, because he believed they implied that the advertiser manufactured the products, which he understood was not the case.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. Westminster Recliners (WR) stated that the Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) offer applied to their premium range which included two products: the "Queen Anne" and the "Kensington". They asserted that details of their offers were always available on request. They provided a price list for the Kensington range, along with copies of invoices for the range from both before the promotion was run, and during the promotion, which they considered showed that the BOGOF offer was genuine and customers had taken advantage of the offer. They noted that they had not found any invoices for the Queen Anne model, and stated that they had not sold any over the offer period. They believed that was because the Queen Anne model was not available in their popular "TIS" (Tilt-in-Space) option which they offered for most of their chairs.
2. WR said the claims were true, they only supplied handcrafted furniture, they were proud of their products and they used the finest raw materials for their products.
The ASA understood that WR's premium range consisted of two products. We noted, however, that neither WR's website nor their brochure referred to a premium range or explained which products were part of that range. Although we understood that further details were available on request, we considered that if a consumer followed the stated instructions and requested a brochure, or, if they visited WR's website, they would still not understand which products the offer applied to. We acknowledged that WR had provided a price list and invoices which showed that the BOGOF offer was genuine for the Kensington range and confirmed that consumers had taken advantage of the offer. We noted, however, that WR were not able to provide any evidence to show that the BOGOF offer was genuine for the Queen Anne range.
Because the ad did not make clear which items were included in the offer and WR had not provided any evidence to show that the BOGOF offer was genuine for the Queen Anne range, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
On that point, ad (a) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 8.1 and 8.2 (Sales promotions).
We understood that WR used a contract manufacturer for all their products. We noted that WR considered that the claims were simply descriptions of their products, which were handmade in Britain from the finest raw materials. We considered, however, that in the context of the ad most consumers would understand the references to "our handcrafted British made furniture ..." and "We only use the finest raw materials for the construction of our products", to mean that the products had been manufactured by WR.
Because we considered most consumers would interpret the claim to mean that WR manufactured all the products they sold when that was not the case, we concluded that the claims were misleading.
On that point, the claims breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Westminster Recliners to ensure they held appropriate substantiation for the claims made in their advertising, and to make clear which products were subject to their special offers in future. We also told them not to state or imply that they manufactured their products if that was not the case.