A website for Anglian Windows, www.anglianhome.co.uk, seen 5 February 2020, stated “UP TO 40% OFF APPLICABLE PRODUCTS WITH OUR VOLUME PRICE REDUCTION”. Text underneath stated “Available to 31st March 2020”, “Subject to Terms & Conditions” and “Click here for more Information”. The click through led to further information about the promotion and stated “Through our vertical integration, when larger value orders are placed, we will, until 31 March 2020, be able to reduce the price of the products ordered. When you place an order for products exceeding a certain value, this allows us to achieve efficiencies … All these efficiencies result in reduced costs, which we can pass back to you in the form of a price reduction”. The web page contained information on the percentage discount associated with different order values.
IssueSafestyle UK challenged whether the savings claim “UP TO 40% OFF” was misleading and could be substantiated.
Anglian Windows Ltd said the promotion called ‘Big Improvements, British Value’ applied to a limited number of their products: windows, doors (non-garage), porches and living spaces (i.e. conservatories, orangeries and extensions). They said that the promotion ran from 4 February until 31 March 2020 and that customers were eligible for a percentage price reduction of up to 40%.
Anglian Windows believed the scale of the reduction was made clear to customers via the link marked “Click here for more information”. Any customer who qualified for the price reduction received the reduction in full across the total value of the products purchased. They believed it was clear that the reductions available applied only to the price of products and not to the cost of installation or building work. They provided us with their promotional calendar for 2019 and early 2020, which included three further promotions, ‘Buy British, Buy Anglian’, ‘Buy More Pay Less’ and ‘Help Us Help You’. For each of the promotions, they provided a breakdown that included the number of orders to which a discount had been applied.
The ad stated that “UP TO 40% OFF” applied to “APPLICABLE PRODUCTS” and that the promotion was “Available to 31st March 2020”. The ASA considered consumers would understand from the ad that a discount applied to individual products or product ranges, and that the promotion was temporary. We considered that consumers were also likely to understand the “UP TO 40% OFF” claims to represent a genuine saving against the usual selling price for the individual products included in the promotion at the time the ads appeared, and that Anglian Windows had reduced the price from that usual selling price for the promotional period.
We acknowledged that the ad also stated “VOLUME PRICE REDUCTION”, but we considered consumers were unlikely to understand that it referred to a mechanism whereby a percentage discount was applied to the total value of qualifying orders rather than to individual products. While more detailed information was available on a further click through page, many consumers would not proceed to that page. We considered that it was important the nature of a promotion was clear from the outset to avoid consumers being misled. We understood that the advertised promotion ran from 4 February until 31 March 2020 and that the promotional products included windows, doors and porches.
Anglian Windows had provided a promotional calendar for 2019 and early 2020, which showed three further promotions where customers were also eligible for a price reduction on windows, doors and porches. One ran from 2 January 2019 until 5 March 2019, and a second from 30 April 2019 until 4 June 2019. Those promotions allowed customers to receive a discount on their order, with the discount amount dependent on the value of the order. In addition from 6 November 2018 until 3 February 2020 a further promotion was also running. That promotion, on the same products, allowed customers to opt-in to various initiatives to receive a discount, which could be applied in addition to discounts from the promotions which were ongoing in 2019. Whilst that promotion required customers to opt-in, the sales data demonstrated that all but one customer did so. The sales data therefore did not demonstrate that there were significant sales at non-promotional prices.
We considered the duration of that promotion, meant that eligible products were on promotion for the period from 6 November 2018 until 3 February 2020, immediately before the promotion referenced in the ad. We therefore considered there was no intervening period between promotions during which a higher selling price had been established. Because the ad implied that consumers would be able to achieve a genuine short-term saving against a usual non-promotional selling price of individual products or product ranges, when in fact the products had been sold at lower promotional prices for over a year, we concluded that the savings claim “Up to 40% off” was likely to mislead consumers.
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 3.17 3.17 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product featured in the marketing communication. (Prices).
The ads must not appear again in its current form. We told Anglian Windows Ltd to ensure their future savings claims did not mislead.