Claims on www.pcworld.co.uk, promoting a 3D television. Red text stated, "£1,999.00", and smaller grey text below stated, "was £3,499.00 (£3,499.00 From 10/09/14 to 01/10/14)". Text in a bubble underneath stated, "Save £1,500.00".
The complainant, who believed that the "was" price was no longer relevant, challenged whether the savings claim was misleading and could be substantiated, because they believed it did not represent a genuine saving.
DSG Retail Ltd t/a PC World said they believed the advertised saving fully complied with the practices recommended in the BIS Pricing Practices Guide (PPG) and that the CAP Code stated that price statements in advertisements should take the PPG into account. They said the guide covered the use of a 'was' price that was last available more than six months ago and stated that the basis for any comparison should be made clear, for example, by the use of dates to show when the previous price was last available. They said, as recommended by the guide, the price of the product was clearly accompanied by dates showing when the higher price had applied, directly below the product price, and they said that evidence could be provided to demonstrate that £3,499 was the market price for the product during that period. They said a saving of £1,500 could be made, compared to when the product was available to purchase between the dates stated.
The ASA noted PC World's comments about the ad's compliance with the PPG. However, while we took that into account, we assessed whether it breached the CAP Code.
We considered that consumers would expect the claim "Save £1,500.00" to represent a genuine saving against the usual selling price of the product at the time the ad appeared. We were unable to determine whether the price on which that savings claim was based, £3,499, was the usual selling price of the product, because we had not seen evidence to demonstrate that that was the case, such as the pricing history of the product.
We noted that the ad included smaller, less prominent text which indicated that the product had been available at the higher price for a period of three weeks, more than six months previously. Given that, we considered it was unlikely that the higher price was the price at which the product was usually sold at the time the ad appeared, or, therefore, that the savings claim represented a genuine saving against the usual selling price. We therefore considered that the small print also contradicted the impression that £1,500 could be saved against the usual selling price of the product at the time the ad appeared.
We concluded that the savings claim had not been substantiated, and 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), 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification), 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 DSG Retail Ltd to ensure their future savings claims did not mislead about the benefit available.