A regional press ad, for Currys PC World, published in June 2014, stated "Samsung 55" Smart 3D LED TV £899 Save £400 ... Was £1299 from 09.06.13 to 01.07.13".
A reader challenged whether the claim "Save £400" was misleading and could be substantiated, because the saving was based on the price at which the product was sold for a short period a year before.
DSG believed that they had followed the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Pricing Practices Guide guidance for comparisons made with a price last available more than six months before, by stating in the ad the actual dates over which the previous price was offered. They referenced a previous ASA ruling and believed that they were compliant with those findings. They argued that the ad clearly stated for how long and when the comparison price of £1299 price applied and the comparison would therefore not mislead consumers. They explained that the TV had also been offered at £1299 during the period 27 March to 8 June 2013, which together with the dates 9 June to 1 July quoted in the ad, showed that the £1299 price had applied for 97 consecutive days, the longest period at one single price.
They questioned how or why the age of the quoted price could give a misleading impression. They acknowledged that no consumer had paid £1299 in the period since the date referred to in the ad and that the saving claim was not representative of the difference between the quoted £899, which was the lowest price charged for the TV set, and the prices charged in that 11-month period. However, they believed the ad had not created a false impression, because the basis of the price comparison was clearly stated in the ad and consumers would therefore not be misled about the basis for the claim.
The ASA understood that the "Save £400" claim was based on the £1299 price of the TV set during the period 9 June to 1 July 2013, which was 11 months before the ad appeared. During those 11 months, the cost of the TV set at Currys PC World varied, but we understood the price was always lower than the £1299 previously charged and quoted in the ad.
We considered that the implication in the ad was that customers would save £400 against a price at which the TV had been recently sold, which was not the case. The claim "Save £400" implied that customers would be able to make a significant saving on the cost of the TV, whereas the saving claim applied to a price last charged some 11 months earlier, rather than on the price consumers would have paid during those 11 months.
We acknowledged that the ad stated the basis for the savings claim, but considered that, because no consumer would actually have paid that amount during the 11 months since the price applied, £1299 should not have been referred to as the selling price of the TV. Using a price that applied some 11 months earlier, when the TV set was at its highest selling price during those 11 months, whether that information was made clear in the ad or not, did not reflect a genuine saving to consumers on the price they were likely to have paid over those 11 months. Although the "was" date was likely to be seen by consumers, we considered that it did not over-ride the general impression that consumers would be saving £400 on the price at which the TV set had been sold before the offer applied.
We considered that consumers would regard the 'was' price as the normal selling price of the product and simply stating when a price applied did not remove the misleading impression that a significant saving could be made on the price at which the TV set had been sold before the offer. We considered that the savings claim was not based on a meaningful price that consumers were realistically likely to have paid reasonably recently.
Although the ad stated the basis for the savings claim, because £1299 was no longer the selling price and had not been charged for some time, consumers would not be able to save £400 as the ad claimed. We therefore considered that the claim "Save £400" gave a misleading impression of the saving available and concluded that the ad breached the Code.
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), 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) and 3.40 3.40 Price comparisons must not mislead by falsely claiming a price advantage. Comparisons with a recommended retail prices (RRPs) are likely to mislead if the RRP differs significantly from the price at which the product or service is generally sold. (Price comparisons).
The ad must not appear again in their current form. We told DSG Retail Ltd to ensure that savings claims did not mislead about the benefit available.