An in-store point of sale price promotion by Furniture Village, seen on 12 January 2019, related to a divan set including mattress and base. A heading at the top stated "Sale". Text stated "ASP £1099 - Introductory Offer £549". Small text at the bottom stated "ASP = After Sale Price".
The complainant, who had hurried to purchase before the promotion ended on 20 January but who saw that the price fell after 20 January to £499, challenged whether the promotion had been administered fairly.
Furniture Village Ltd said the divan set in question had been available to purchase since 19 December. It was launched with an introductory offer of £549 against an after sale price of £1,099. In addition, it was featured as part of an "Early Bird" promotion which offered two free drawers between 19 December and 6 January.
They said that between 7 January and 17 February it was sold without the free drawers at the same introductory offer price of £549 against an after sale price of £1,099 and did not feature in any other offers during that time.
They said the divan was sold in a double bed version as well as king size, and that both sizes were also sold in "no drawer" versions. The king size divan set without drawers was sold at an introductory offer price of £495 against an after sale price of £999 in the same 7 January to 17 February period.
The ASA considered consumers would understand "Sale" to represent a saving against a genuine, established, usual selling price and "Introductory Offer" to refer to an introductory price that was lower than the intended standard price. Both references appeared prominently in the ad. The Code allowed for the use of introductory offers as long as it was clear that the lower price was an introductory price rather than a discount against the usual selling price. We acknowledged that the ad stated £1,099 as "ASP" to signify "after sale price". However, we considered consumers would not necessarily be familiar with the abbreviation "ASP" and that, in any case, the references to both a "Sale" and an "Introductory Offer" meant that the basis of the savings claim was not clear to consumers.
The ad did not state the closing date of the offer. However, the terms "Sale" and "Introductory Offer" were prominently displayed in conjunction with the £549 price, which was significantly lower than the £1,099 price. We noted that, at the same time, Furniture Village was running other offers with short closing dates and that the complainant had seen information in the store which referred to offers ending the following day. We considered that the deadline by which consumers needed to act to take advantage of an offer was significant information. In the context of the elements listed above, we considered the absence of a closing date in this case suggested to consumers that they needed to act very quickly to take advantage of the lower price. In reality, however, the offer seen by the complainant on 12 January ran until 17 February. We therefore considered that the ad did not provide consumers with significant information that was likely to influence their decision to take up the offer.
Because the basis of the savings claim was not clear and because consumers were likely to believe they had to act more quickly than they needed to, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
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), 3.31 3.31 Marketing communications must not falsely claim that the marketer is about to cease trading or move premises. They must not falsely state that a product, or the terms on which it is offered, will be available only for a very limited time to deprive consumers of the time or opportunity to make an informed choice. (Availability) and 8.17 8.17 All marketing communications or other material referring to promotions must communicate all applicable significant conditions or information where the omission of such conditions or information is likely to mislead. Significant conditions or information may, depending on the circumstances, include: 8.17.4.a 8.17.4.a A prominent closing date, if applicable, for purchases and submissions of entries or claims. Closing dates are not always necessary, for example: comparisons that refer to a special offer (whether the promoter's previous offer or a competitor's offer) if the offer is and is stated to be "subject to availability"; promotions limited only by the availability of promotional packs (gifts with a purchase, extra-volume packs and reduced-price packs) and loyalty schemes run on an open-ended basis d 8.17.4.a 8.17.4.a A prominent closing date, if applicable, for purchases and submissions of entries or claims. Closing dates are not always necessary, for example: comparisons that refer to a special offer (whether the promoter's previous offer or a competitor's offer) if the offer is and is stated to be "subject to availability"; promotions limited only by the availability of promotional packs (gifts with a purchase, extra-volume packs and reduced-price packs) and loyalty schemes run on an open-ended basis (Promotional marketing).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Furniture Village Ltd to ensure future ads made the basis of savings claims clear and did not suggest that consumers needed to act more quickly than was necessary to take advantage of an offer.