A TV ad, seen on 27 November 2014, for a promotion at Currys, included the voice-over "… we've got our best deals at our black tag event … LG wireless sound bar, only £159, save £90". Large on-screen text stated "£159 SAVE £90". Small on-screen text stated "Higher price £249 from 24/7 - 13/8/14".
The complainant, who had purchased the product for £179.99 the previous week, challenged whether the savings claim was misleading.
DSG Retail t/a Currys said the claim was that the product was £90 cheaper than the £249 price, which applied from 24 July to 13 August. The ad featured that 'was' price, and the relevant dates, as well as the current price of £159, which was charged after the complainant had purchased the product. They believed a purchase at £179.99 during another period was therefore not directly relevant to the savings claim. They considered the ad fully complied with the good practices recommended in the BIS Pricing Practices Guide. They said the current price, the 'was' price and the dates stated in the ad were all correct and that it was not misleading to use a 'was' price not based on the immediately previous selling price of the product, in particular given that the basis of the comparison was made clear via the stated dates. The intervening prices had not been lower than the price stated in the ad, and therefore there was no requirement to include them. They provided details of the price history of the product, from 24 July to the date the complainant saw the ad.
Clearcast said Currys had supplied them with relevant price reduction substantiation and they therefore believed the ad was not misleading.
The ASA considered the overall impression of the ad, for example the reference to "best deals", and the prominent claims both on-screen and in the voice-over that consumers could "save £90", was such that consumers were likely to understand they could make a £90 saving against the usual selling price of the product at the time the ad appeared. While we acknowledged the ad stated the dates the 'was' price had applied, and that Currys' position was that this made the basis of the savings claim clear, we considered the on-screen text was not sufficient to remove the impression that a £90 saving could be made against the usual selling price of the sound bar, and that it also contradicted that overall impression.
We understood the claim "£159 SAVE £90" was based on the price of the product from 24 July to 13 August 2014, which the price history Currys provided indicated had been £249.99. Notwithstanding that, we noted the 'was' price was last relevant over three months before the complainant saw the ad. During the intervening time, the cost of the LG wireless sound bar at Currys had varied but, aside from a two-day period during September 2014, when it was also £249.99, it was always lower than the 'was' price stated in the ad. For almost half of the period, including for the three weeks before the price was changed to £159 (the promotional price stated in the ad), the product was £179.99, and it had also been £199.99 and £229.99 for several weeks respectively.
We understood that the sector was one in which prices were likely to fluctuate frequently and the 'was' price was one at which the product had been made available for three weeks during July and August 2014. However, aside from ‘for two days’ during the ‘over 14-week’ period that followed, prices that were lower than the 'was' price had been charged, and this therefore represented a lesser saving than the £90 stated in the ad.. We therefore considered the 'was' price was not a genuine representation of the price at which the product was usually sold at the time the ad appeared and the savings claims that were based on it were misleading.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is 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), 3.10 3.10 Advertisements must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification) and 3.18 3.18 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product or service depicted in the advertisement. (Prices).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told DSG Retail Ltd to ensure their future savings claims did not mislead about the benefit available.