During the course of the investigation, Everest Ltd changed its name to Everest 2020 Ltd.
A website for Everest, www.everest.co.uk, seen 5 February 2020, stated on its home page “LOVE YOUR HOME” and “UP TO 40% OFF”. Clicking on the text directed consumers to a web page which stated “We're sharing the love this February by giving you up to 40% off windows and doors and up to 20% off conservatories. So, why not show your home some love with new secure, energy-efficient windows and doors or a new contemporary living space. Don't miss out, book your FREE no-obligation quote or give us a call and start your project today”.
IssueSafestyle UK challenged whether the savings claim “UP TO 40% OFF” was misleading and could be substantiated.
ResponseEverest Ltd provided their promotional calendar for February 2019 until February 2020 and terms and conditions for each of the promotions that took place during that period. They also provided details of the relevant product ranges included within those promotions.
The ASA considered that consumers were likely to understand the “UP TO 40% OFF” claim to represent a genuine saving against the usual selling price for the products at the time the ads appeared, and that Everest had reduced the price for the promotional period. We also considered that consumers would generally expect periods of promotion to be temporary.
We considered the promotional calendar for February 2019 to February 2020 Everest provided. Over that period, Everest had run nine promotions consecutively which had started and ended immediately one after another. The promotions either included their ‘Signature’ or ‘Editions’ ranges of windows and doors. We understood that discounted prices were available on the: ‘Editions’ range from 5 February 2019 until 4 March 2019 (27 days); from 24 April 2019 until 1 July 2019 (68 days); from 3 September 2019 until 3 December 2019 (90 days); and from 23 December 2019 until 3 February 2020 (42 days). We understood that between those promotions there were intervening periods of 49 days, 62 days and 19 days when discounted prices were not available on the ‘Editions’ range, but were instead available on the ‘Signature’ range. At the time the ad was seen on 5 February 2020 the promotion related to the ‘Signature’ range.
We assessed the difference between the windows and doors in Everest’s ‘Editions’ and ‘Signature’ ranges. We understood that the ‘Signature’ range products included a black spacer bar in their internal construction, whereas the ‘Editions’ range allowed the choice of either grey or black, but that they were otherwise the same products. However, we considered that this difference would be seen as negligible by consumers. In addition, the Everest website did not appear to make reference to the two different ranges or market them separately. This meant that products which were virtually identical had been advertised continually as on promotion from February 2019 until February 2020. Therefore, at the time the ad appeared the products had been on promotional offer for a year and the usual selling price was in effect the lower promotional price, rather than a higher non-promotional price.
Notwithstanding that we considered the products included in the ‘Editions’ and ‘Signature’ ranges were equivalent, we also considered that the intervening periods between Everest’s promotions on the two ranges would have been insufficient in length to establish that the higher prices of the products were the usual selling prices of the products. Because we considered the ‘Editions’ and ‘Signature’ product ranges were equivalent, and that the promotional products were not usually sold at a higher non-promotional price, we concluded that the savings claims was likely to mislead consumers.
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) 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 the form complained about. We told Everest Ltd to ensure their future savings claims did not mislead and to ensure they substantiated savings against the usual selling price of their products. We also told them to take care when planning any consecutive promotions to ensure that ranges on promotion would be seen as genuinely distinguishable by consumers.