A website for Bosch, www.bosch-home.co.uk, a home electricals manufacturer seen on 22 August 2018 featured a web page for The Unlimited, a cordless stick vacuum cleaner. Towards the top of the page text over an image reel stated “Cordless, but with continuous runtime*, thanks to exchangeable battery pack and quick charger”. Beneath the following image, text stated “*Under 60 minute charge time with quick charger (EHZUC181GB) Compared to other manufacturers’ communicated charge times of cordless sticks in the UK market”.
On the same page, underneath the heading “Continuous runtime”, text stated “The Unlimited cordless vacuum cleaner provides continuous runtime*. With exchangeable battery packs and a quick charger. One battery can be charged while the other battery is in use, so it’s always ready to go and never runs out of power”. At the bottom of the page, text stated “*Runtime is continuous with the included Bosch quick charger, two 3.0 Ah Bosch Power for ALL batteries and running on normal power mode, because one battery can be charged while the other battery is in use”.
A video embedded on the page showed The Unlimited being used with various accessories. It was shown with an electric nozzle attachment held next to the charger. Text on the screen stated “Infinite runtime*. Up to 60 Min runtime*. Up to 60 Min fast charge. Quick charger”. Small text at the bottom of the screen stated “*Runtime is infinite with the included Bosch quick charger, two 3.0Ah Bosch Power for All batteries and running on normal power mode, because one battery can be charged while the other battery in use”.
On the product page for The Unlimited BCS122GB white, in the “Additional information” section, under the heading “Performance”, text stated “Runtime per battery pack Up to 60 min. on normal mode with non-electrical accessories, Up to 45 min. on normal mode with electrical floor nozzle, Up to 7 min. on turbo mode with electrical floor nozzle”.
Dyson Ltd challenged whether the claims “continuous runtime” and “infinite runtime” were misleading and could be substantiated.
BSH Home Appliances Ltd t/a Bosch said that the claims “continuous runtime” and “infinite runtime” did not appear in isolation on their website and were always used in conjunction with appropriate explanatory wording which set out the basis of the claim, such as “Runtime is continuous with the included Bosch quick charger, two 3.0 Ah Bosch Power for ALL batteries and running on normal power mode, because one battery can be charged while the other battery is in use, so it’s always ready to go and never runs out of power”. It was therefore clear that the ability of the product to offer “continuous” and “infinite” runtime was because it was supplied with two batteries, so one could always be charging while the other was in use. Because the product had the ability to charge one of the two batteries constantly while not in use, the runtime was continuous and could carry on infinitely.
Bosch said they instructed an independent third party to conduct testing on the product to confirm that the runtime could be described as continuous or infinite. They provided a copy of that test report. They said it showed that if both batteries were completely discharged at the start of the testing, provided one battery was charged for five minutes at the beginning, the two batteries could be interchanged continuously, so that one was charging while the other is in use. They said that during the testing, the batteries were interchanged seven times, which resulted in a total runtime of approximately 235 minutes (or nearly 4 hours) before the test was terminated. That was an extremely long period of time in the context of the usual time taken to vacuum the average home. The test could have continued to run with the batteries being continuously interchanged indefinitely, to provide an infinite runtime.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the claims "infinite runtime" and "continuous runtime" that they would be able to use Bosch's The Unlimited vacuum cleaner continuously without the vacuum cleaner running out of power. We considered consumers would understand from the qualifications "because one battery can be charged while the other battery is in use" and "running on normal power mode" that the continuous runtime was achieved by alternating between batteries and using the product on normal power mode.
We reviewed the evidence submitted by Bosch, who had used an independent third party to conduct testing on the product on hard and carpeted floors. The vacuum cleaner was tested by using two batteries, both of which were empty at the start of the test. The first battery was charged for five minutes and then inserted and used until it ran out, during which time the second battery had been charging and was then exchanged with the first battery. As that process of alternating between using and charging the batteries was repeated, the runtime of the battery increased until it reached around one hour in all tests.
We noted that the testing had been carried out using the electric floor nozzle, but not any of the non-electrical accessories. However, we considered it was reasonable to do so because using the electric floor nozzle resulted in a shorter battery runtime and less time in which to charge the second battery compared to the other, non-electrical, accessories.
The results showed that by using the quick charger provided with the product, the battery could be charged to 80% in 30 minutes, and to 100% in 46 minutes. That meant that the runtime of the battery exceeded the charging time needed for it to reach full charge, and therefore could be repeatedly exchanged between charging and in use without a break.
Because the advertiser demonstrated that the vacuum cleaner could be used continuously without it running out of power, we concluded that the claims "infinite runtime" and "continuous runtime" had been substantiated.
We investigated the ad under 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.
Qualifications must be presented clearly.
CAP has published a Help Note on Claims that Require Qualification. (Qualification) and 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration), but did not find it in breach.
No further action required