A website for Laptops Direct, www.laptopsdirect.co.uk, seen on 20 December 2016, for the HP 280 G2 desktop computer which featured a crossed-out “was” price of £417.97, and which stated “You save £28.00 Now £389.97”.
The complainant, who understood that the computer was not originally priced at £417.97, challenged whether the savings claim was misleading and could be substantiated.
Buy It Direct Ltd t/a Laptops Direct stated that they did not have any previous pricing data for the product from the previous year due to a system upgrade. They said they had not sold any units of the computer at £417.97 previously, and they had therefore subsequently lowered the price to £389.97. Once the sales of the computer started picking up at the lower price they had then increased the price back up to £417.97.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the ad that the “was” price of £417.97 was a genuine selling price and that they would be able to make a saving of £28 against the usual selling price of the product at the time the ad appeared.
We noted that Buy It Direct Ltd did not have any data to show how long the computer had been advertised at the “was” price and that they had not sold any computers at that price. Given that, we considered they had neither demonstrated that the higher price was the usual selling price of the product, nor that it was a genuine selling price. We therefore concluded that the savings claims were 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 3.17 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 ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Buy It Direct Ltd to ensure that they held adequate data to substantiate their savings claims, and that such claims did not mislead about the benefit available.