An email ad from Beer52, seen on 18 March 2020, with the subject line “[Name of recipient], 10 beers £10 – drink beer at home!”, stated “I’d like to welcome you back to the club with our Island of Ireland edition – celebrate St Patrick’s at home. I’ll even throw in super fast delivery for FREE (worth £4.95). Remember you can skip a box, pause or cancel at any time – we’re flexible”. Large blue linked text stated “Claim 10 Pack For £10 with free delivery” followed by smaller text which stated “(only 87 left)”.
Clicking on the linked text took the email recipient to a landing page on the Beer52 website, www.beer52.com, where text stated “You cancelled your account on [DATE]. Reactivate your account and get these beers now! You have £19 credit in your account!”. An image of ten bottles and cans of beer was accompanied by text which stated “10 beers, magazine, snack Pay £10 now, then £29 / month”.
IssueThe complainant challenged whether the claim “You have £19 credit in your account” was misleading, because it implied that the email recipient had £19 in credit on their account when the offer was a £19 discount off a specific product.
ResponseBeer52 Ltd explained that the £19 credit could be used only towards their monthly ten-pack of beer subscription plan which cost £29 per pack. Recipients of the email who claimed the offer in time would pay £10 towards the first month’s pack and £29 for subsequent monthly packs. They believed that the ad included the key information needed for consumers to understand the offer: the normal price for the pack of beer; the price of the pack when the credit was applied; and that future packs of beer would cost £29. They did not think consumers would be misled by describing the offer as a “credit” of £19 rather than as a discount for the first month’s subscription. They said that customers could earn credit in a variety of ways, such as through brand loyalty or if they had experienced a problem with a previous delivery.
Beer52 offered monthly subscription plans for packs of either eight or ten beers, and also sold beer individually and in multipacks on a non-subscription basis. The ASA understood the email was sent only to consumers who had previously been subscribed to one of the monthly subscription plans. The email subject stated “[…] 10 beers £10 […]” and the body text included “I’d like to welcome you back to the club with our Island of Ireland edition […] Remember you can skip a box, pause or cancel at any time – we’re flexible. Claim 10 Pack For £10 […] (only 87 left)”.
We considered those claims together would be understood by recipients to mean that, as a previous customer, if they signed up for the ten-pack monthly subscription they would be eligible to receive their first ten-pack at a discounted price of £10. However, the landing page began by referencing the date on which the recipient had cancelled their account and stated “Reactivate your account and get these beers now! You have £19 credit in your account!”. In that context we considered that the claim that there was “credit” in the recipient’s “account” would be understood by recipients as meaning that they had money on their account available to spend – or have refunded to them – as they wished, rather than it being a reference to the discount offer described in the email.
Recipients might therefore understand that they had £19 to spend (or withdraw) as well as being eligible for the offer of a discount on the first ten-pack of a new monthly subscription plan and would therefore be more likely to enquire further about the offer. Because recipients would understand the claim “You have £19 credit in your account!” to mean that they had £19 to spend or withdraw as they wished, rather than being an additional reference to the discount offer, we concluded that the claim was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising).
The web page must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Beer52 Ltd not to use the terminology “credit in your account” when describing a discount offer on a specific product or service.