An email for Euro Car Parts included text stating “Our Biggest Ever CHRISTMAS SALE STARTS NOW” and "UP TO 69% OFF USE CODE: XMAS”.
Three complainants, who believed that only one product had the full 69% discount, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Euro Car Parts Ltd said that 10,378 products in the promotion received a discount of 69% or more and that this amounted to 11% of the total promoted stock. They explained that each product had a ‘Was’ price which was the price that Euro Car Parts regarded as their normal retail price for the product, and which had previously been charged either online or in stores. There was also a ‘Now’ price which was the price available to customers on that day without using the promotional code. They provided price history data for ten randomly selected products. They said the individual discount available on each featured product was revealed when the consumer used the ‘XMAS’ discount code at the checkout.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the claim “UP TO 69% OFF USE CODE: XMAS” that the promotional code would apply to the selling price of the products at the time the ad appeared and which would otherwise apply if the code was not entered. They would also expect that price to be the usual selling price of the products at the time the ad appeared.
However, we noted the discount applied to a price that had previously been charged either online or in stores, and that, when the discount was worked out against the price which was available to customers on that day without using the promotional code, the discount consumers actually received was significantly lower than the one being advertised. For example, a washer which had previously been sold at £0.38, and on that day was being sold for £0.12, was reduced to £0.08 once the code was entered. The advertised discount for that product was 79%, whereas the discount against the price on the day was 33%. Further, the invoices provided for ten randomly selected products showed that they had last been sold at the ‘Was’ price between 1.5 and 5 months prior to the date of the promotion, and so the ‘Was’ price did not appear to be the usual selling price for the products on the date of the sale. Given that, we considered that the ‘Was’ prices were, in any case, likely to be no longer relevant for use as a reference for a savings claim.
In addition, we noted that the amount of the discount offered was different for each product, but that amount was not given until the code had been entered at the checkout. There was therefore no way for consumers to know how much they would pay for a product featured in the promotion before that stage. We considered that the available discount was material information that should have been included on individual product pages, and that its omission was likely to mislead consumers.
Because the claim “UP TO 69% OFF” exaggerated the savings available and furthermore the discount was against outdated prices, we therefore concluded that it was misleading.
The ad breached CAP code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (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) 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. and 3.22 3.22 Price claims such as "up to" and "from" must not exaggerate the availability or amount of benefits likely to be obtained by the consumer. (Prices).
The ad must not appear in its current form again. We told Euro Car Parts Ltd to ensure they did not exaggerate the savings available when making “up to” claims and to ensure that consumers were provided with information about the discount available on specific products on the relevant product pages.