A product detail page listing on www.amazon.co.uk for self-adhesive enamel dots seen on 2 June 2016 featured text that stated, “Simple Stories Let's Party Enamel Dots Embellishments-, Other, Multicoloured [sic] by Simple Stories …. RRP: £9.70 [crossed through] Price: £4.19 … You Save £5.51 (57%) …” and underneath this was the name of a seller.
The complainant, who was also a seller on the website, challenged whether the “RRP” claim was genuine.
Amazon confirmed that its supplier provided the RRP reference price displayed on the product detail page for the item. Amazon further confirmed that it did not set product reference prices, and that they were provided by a product’s manufacturer, supplier or seller.
Amazon explained that marketplace sellers were able, at any time, to contact “Seller Support” via their account to request changes to be made to a product detail page. Sellers could do this by using the “Contact Us” form and by selecting “Products and Inventory > Product Page Issue > Fix a product page”.
Following the ASA contacting Amazon, the RRP claim was removed.
The seller who won the “Buy Box” on the product detail page stated that they did not make the RRP claim in the ad and that it was solely under the control of Amazon.
The ASA noted that the RRP claim was shown at the top of the product page along with details of the seller who had won the “Buy Box”. We understood that the “Buy Box” was a feature on Amazon’s website that applied to products sold by multiple sellers. Whoever won the “Buy Box” (determined by Amazon’s algorithm) had their details shown at a prime location on the product page and would be the first option for consumers to purchase the product from by clicking on the “Add to Basket” button. Underneath the “Buy Box” would be another box listing all the other sellers for the same product in price ascending order, with each one having the “Add to Basket” option.
We considered consumers would understand references to RRP to mean that the product was generally sold at the stated price by most retailers, and that they could make a saving by shopping at, or with, that particular retailer. On that basis, it was likely to influence their decision to purchase.
Although the presentation suggested that the seller was making the RRP claim, we understood that the product page was controlled by Amazon, which also sold the advertised item, and that they had quoted the RRP without any input from the seller who had won the “Buy Box”. We therefore considered that Amazon were responsible for substantiating the RRP claim.
We understood that where multiple sellers sold the same product on Amazon’s website, all offers were loaded to a single product page controlled by Amazon and that sellers could request changes to be made via Amazon.
We noted that the RRP was given to Amazon by their supplier and considered that was not a sufficient basis on which a specific RRP claim could be made. Furthermore, we had not seen information in the form of sales data or invoices for instance, which demonstrated that the item was generally sold at the RRP price by them and/or other sellers.
Because they had not substantiated that the item was generally sold at the RRP, we concluded that the ad complained about 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).
We noted Amazon had removed the RRP claim from the page marketing the advertised product on the amazon.co.uk website. We told them not to use the approach again unless they could demonstrate that savings claims against RRP were made against prices at which products were generally sold.