The website www.currys.co.uk, seen on 19 and 20 February 2016, included a product listing for the HP Envy 13-d061-sa 13.3” laptop in aluminium. Claims included “£649.99”, in red, with “Save £150.00” below in black text. Smaller grey text below stated “Was £799.99 (from 04/12/15 to 24/12/15)”.
The complainant, who believed the advertised discount did not represent a genuine saving, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
DSG Retail Ltd t/a Currys said the higher “was” price of £799.99 had applied for 21 days from 4 December 2015, and had been available both in stores and online throughout that period. The ad made clear when the previous price was last available, as recommended in the BIS Pricing Practices Guide (PPG) when a price was not the most recent available for 28 days or more. The laptop had then been priced at £699.99 for 41 days, from 25 December 2015, and then at £649.99 from 4 February 2016. They provided details of the number of laptops they had sold per day during the “was” price period, as well as of the numbers sold daily at both £699.99 and £649.99 They said that, as would be expected, sales increased as the price was lowered. Currys believed the ad was fully compliant with the practices set out in the PPG.
The ASA noted Currys’ belief the ad was compliant with the guidance set out in the PPG. However, we reminded them that, to ensure the presentation of their prices did not mislead, their advertising needed to comply with the CAP Code. We considered consumers would generally understand a claim to “Save £150.00” to represent a genuine saving against the usual selling price of the product at the time the ad appeared. We noted that the ad included smaller, less prominent text which indicated when the product had been available at the higher price. We considered many consumers were unlikely to notice the smaller grey text. While those who did would understand when the “was” price had been charged, that information was insufficient to alter the impression that there was a genuine saving of £150 available against the usual selling price of the product at the time the ad appeared. We assessed the information Currys submitted in light of that likely understanding.
We noted the “was” price of £799.99 had last been available for 21 days almost two months previously, and that the price of £699.99 had since applied for 20 days longer than that. A higher number of laptops had been sold per day at £699.99 than at £799.99. A higher daily number still had been sold at £649.99 in the 16 days between that price being introduced and the complainant first seeing the ad. We acknowledged it seemed likely that higher numbers of items would be sold at lower prices, taking into account factors such as how products were marketed. However, given the relative numbers of sales at each price, and the durations for which they were applicable, with the “was” price not having been charged for almost two months, we considered the advertised “was” price of £799.99 did not represent the usual selling price of the laptop at the time the ad appeared. In that context, and given the understanding we considered consumers were likely to take from the savings claim, we concluded that the ad was 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), 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 were not misleading.