Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, of which one was Upheld. The other was informally resolved after the advertiser agreed to amend their advertising.
A website and a paid-for Google search result for online blinds retailer Blinds 2 Go, seen on 12 August 2019:
a. The website www.blinds-2go.co.uk featured a claim on the home page, which stated “Up to 70% off High Street prices. Amazing savings direct to your door”.
b. The paid-for Google search result stated “Blinds 2go. Save Up to 70%” and “Save Up To 70% Off High St. Prices”.
Dunelm challenged whether the 70% discount claims in ads (a) and (b) were misleading and could be substantiated.
Blinds 2 Go Ltd said that they reviewed high street prices every month and published a selection of their findings on their website. They said they compared a standard high street product with the same specification as a product they offered. They provided a report which listed products from five high street stores against which they had compared their prices.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claims “Up to 70% off High Street prices”, “Save Up to 70%” and “Save Up To 70% Off High St. Prices” in ads (a) and (b) to mean that Blinds 2 Go offered products, which were also available through high street retailers, at a discounted rate and that a significant proportion of those products were discounted at 70%. We considered that the text “Amazing savings direct to your door” in ad (a) further reinforced the impression that the products were available at a discount versus purchasing the same product through a high street retailer.
The report provided by Blinds 2 Go compared products at five high street retailers. While some of the products that Blinds 2 Go sold had similar features and patterns to those sold through those retailers, they were not the same products and we therefore considered the claims in the ads misleading for that reason. Many of the products against which Blinds 2 Go compared their products differed significantly in colour and pattern, and some were no longer available through the high street retailers, or were available at different prices to those listed in the report.
We considered that had consumers understood the comparison to have been against similar rather than identical products, they would have expected Blinds 2 Go to have included other major retailers that also sold blinds; it was not clear why those retailers had been excluded. In addition, for each of the products compared per high street retailer, the report showed very few comparisons resulted in a 70% discount. None of the comparisons against Dunelm’s products, for example, resulted in a 70% discount. Very few comparisons against the other retailers’ products resulted in a discount of 70%, and we had not been provided with any information which demonstrated what proportion of the retailers’ products had been compared.
As such, we could not be sure that the report constituted an appropriate reflection of the full range of products offered by those retailers. Blinds 2 Go had also only compared against made-to-measure products at 120x120 cm and 150x150 cm, whereas many other made-to-measure sizes were available through the high street retailers, and no comparisons had been made against ready-made products. In light of the above, we concluded that the claims in ads (a) and (b) were misleading.
Ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code (Edition) 12 rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.17 (Prices) and 3.39 (Price comparisons).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Blinds 2 Go Ltd to ensure that in the future, when making discount claims against similar products sold by their competitors, they held documentary evidence which substantiated the claims against a significant proportion of relevant, representative products and did not suggest savings against the same products.