Claims on www.richersounds.com advertising a Samsung TV stated "Lowest Price Guaranteed We'll beat ANY price 'till [sic] it hurts, even from the web, & give you up to £100!" and "FREE 5 Year Guarantee!". A link from the text "Lowest Price Guaranteed" led to the web page www.richersounds.com/information/pricebeat which provided further information about the terms of the offer, including the condition that Richer Sound's Price Beat applied after adding the competitor's equivalent 5-year warranty to the price of their product.
One complainant, who saw the product advertised more cheaply by a competitor was told by Richer Sounds that the Price Beat offer was not applicable to his circumstances. The complainant therefore challenged whether the ad was misleading, because it was not clear that the price match only applied if the competitor also offered a five-year warranty, and the total price of the competitor's product and five-year warranty was lower than the total price of the advertisers' product, which came with a free five-year warranty.
Richer Sounds plc confirmed that, when the complainant had seen the ad, their five-year guarantee was offered free on selected TVs. They now offered a five-year warranty with every TV purchase, as part of their VIP club offer. They added that they also monitored prices to ensure they offered the lowest prices.
They stated that the Price Beat offer was based on a comparison between the price of the TV offered by Richer Sounds (including the free five-year warranty) and the price of the TV offered by the competitor plus the price of that competitor's five-year warranty. They did not consider that that condition was hidden from consumers and stated that it had been included in their print ads. They considered, however, that space was at a premium on a web page and that font sizes could not be as small as in print ads. They therefore believed it was not unreasonable to link through to the terms and conditions in a separate page, which allowed them to go into more detail about the terms of the offer. They stated that the claim offering the lowest price guarantee was in the same block as a click-through link to the terms and conditions, which invited customers to find out more, if they wished to.
The ASA understood that, in order for Richer Sounds to apply their Price Beat offer, the competitor must offer a comparable warranty on the same TV model, namely a five-year warranty, and that the total price of the competitor's product and comparable warranty must be lower than the price of Richer Sounds' product, which came with a free five-year warranty. We considered that that was significant information, which formed the basis of the price match comparison, and which should be clearly stated to consumers.
Although we acknowledged that a link to the Price Beat page, which provided further information about the terms of the offer, appeared next to the claim offering their lowest price guarantee, we did not consider that it was sufficient for that significant information to be set out in a separate web page. Moreover, we did not consider that space on the website was so limited as to mean that significant information could only be included in a separate web page. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
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.
Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify.
Qualifications must be presented clearly.
CAP has published a Help Note on Claims that Require Qualification. (Qualification).
The claims must not appear again in its current form. We told Richer Sounds plc to ensure that significant information, including the basis of the price match comparison, appeared next to the price match claims.