A TV ad for Fischer Future Heat, seen on 6 November 2019, included on-screen text throughout the ad which stated “15% OFF WINTER SALE”. The voice-over stated, “Are your night storage heaters large, bulky and expensive? Replace them with modern slim line heaters from Fischer Future Heat.”
The complainant, who understood that Fischer Future Heat did not publish their prices, challenged whether the claim “15% off winter sale” was misleading and could be substantiated.
Fischer Future Heat UK Ltd said that they did not publish their prices as they offered bespoke services. Their engineers would visit homes to measure and calculate the specified areas, and a free heating survey was carried out to help potential customers find the right sized products. They said that their quotes and prices included the installation of the products, which varied according to each home. This was a reason why they did not publish their prices due to the variations in the installation of products and the subsequent costs.
Once the survey was carried out the customer would receive a quote with a full breakdown of their pricing per unit and any additional discounts. The customer would see the 15% winter discount applied to their order on the order form, before proceeding with the order. They said that there were no significant limitations or qualifications which applied to the offer other than the end date of the promotion which was included in their terms and conditions. They provided two copies of order forms where they said the discount had been applied. Clearcast said that they received confirmation that Fischer Future Heat were promoting a winter sale with a saving of 15% off and provided a copy of their terms and conditions.
The ad included a legal super which stated “T&Cs apply”.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the “15% off” claim to represent a genuine saving against the usual selling price for heaters at the time the ads appeared, as part of their winter sale.
Fischer Future Heat provided copies of two order forms; each included a line referring to a 15% discount. However, the prices of each element of the orders and the cost of the discount that had been applied were redacted. It was therefore not possible for us to confirm whether any discount had been applied to the quoted cost of the orders.
Notwithstanding that, to substantiate the claim we would have expected to see additional corroborating evidence to support the quoted pre-discount costs of the orders, such as a price list which set out the products included in the promotion and their usual selling price, and information as to how Fischer Future Heat calculated installation costs. In the absence of adequate evidence demonstrating that the advertised 15% discount was a genuine saving against the usual selling price of Fischer Future Heat’s products, we concluded that the savings claim was 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) 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 in the form complained of. We told Fischer Future Heat UK Ltd to ensure they held adequate evidence to substantiate discount claims, including evidence relating to the usual selling price of their products.