A promotion for a Bluetooth shower speaker on a daily deals website, www.mightydeals.co.uk, featured text that stated: "£10.99 Discount: 86% Worth: £69.99 ... Original price checked on 10 July 2014 at 10am".
The complainant, who did not believe that the product was generally sold for £69.99, challenged whether the claim "£10.99 Discount: 86% Worth: £69.99" was misleading.
MoneyExpert Ltd t/a Mighty Deals stated that the 'worth' price was the merchant's previous selling price, and that they checked the merchant had sold the product for the last 30 days at this price without artificial inflation. They said they ensured that advertised RRPs matched those on merchant websites, and the prices were also checked against the market rate to ensure that other retailers were selling it at that price.
Mighty Deals provided three sales receipts demonstrating the sale of the product by the merchant at £69.99 on 22 May, 6 and 12 June, and said the merchant had confirmed they had only ever sold the product at this price, excluding appearances on daily deals sites. Mighty Deals also provided links to four websites also selling the product. One website showed the product on sale for £79.99 and one for 69.99. One other was a daily deal from December, selling the product for "£17 instead of £69.99", naming the merchant as the same seller as the second website referred to by Mighty Deals. The fourth website sold the product for £8.99 with a regular price of £78.03. Mighty Deals understood that the merchant had low sales of the product on their website, that it was primarily used for daily deals offers, and that they had not held stock for long.
Mighty Deals stated that as a result of our intervention they were no longer advertising an RRP or discount on the item.
The ASA considered that, by describing the higher price as 'worth', the ad was unclear as to whether this was a reference solely to the merchant's own previous selling price or to the RRP of the product. We understood that Mighty Deals had checked to ensure that other marketers were offering the product at this price, that it was the same as the RRP used by the merchant themselves and reflected their recent selling price. We understood that the merchant had sold the product for the 'worth' price prior to the offer, demonstrated by the sales receipts provided to us, but that they had not sold the product at this price in significant numbers. We also understood that the general market price for the product was much lower. We considered that the merchant's previous selling price was therefore not a genuine retail price because it was not comparable to prices offered by competitors and had not been sold by them in significant numbers at that price. A savings claim on this basis would therefore be misleading.
We considered the examples of other market prices and noted that only two of the examples provided were selling the product at a price around the 'worth' price with the others only using them as a reference point for a substantially lower selling price. We also understood that several other online sellers were marketing the product for prices near to or lower than the offer price. Although we acknowledged that Mighty Deals had taken steps to verify that the 'worth' price was being used across the market, we considered that it was not representative of the price at which the product was generally sold and therefore a savings claim on the basis of the price as an RRP would be misleading. Because the basis of the comparison was unclear and Mighty Deals had not demonstrated that the savings claim was based on a genuine retail price or RRP, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules: 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 3.40 3.40 Price comparisons must not mislead by falsely claiming a price advantage. Comparisons with a recommended retail prices (RRPs) are likely to mislead if the RRP differs significantly from the price at which the product or service is generally sold. (Price comparisons).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told MoneyExpert Ltd to ensure that future ads made clear the basis of any savings claims, and that these claims were supported by evidence that the reference price was genuine.