Summary of council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
A TV and radio ad for Vauxhall:
a. The TV ad, seen in September 2017, showed a couple in a car discussing the Wi-Fi password. The voice-over at the ad’s conclusion stated, “We call that one of life’s small victories and here’s another one: we’ll beat your quote from the well-known online car buyer by £1000 on part-exchanges.” On-screen text stated “Offer is £1000 more than WeBuyAnyCar.com’s valuation based on true condition determined at participating Vauxhall retailer. Offer only on part exchange for new cars registered by 30 September”.
b. The radio ad, heard in September 2017, claimed “Hi, I was hoping to get a price on selling my car. Online they offered me £3000. Okay, how about £4000? What? Really? Brilliant. Yeah, great news. We buy any car too, but we pay £1000 more. We call that one of life’s small victories. Bring Vauxhall a quote from the leading online car buyer and we’ll beat it by £1000 when you trade in your old car for a brand new Vauxhall. Search Vauxhall Buy Any Car. Vauxhall; isn’t life brilliant. Offer in part-exchange for new passenger car orders from the 1 September which are subsequently registered by 30 September. Based on the true condition of the vehicle. Participating Retailers only. Terms and conditions apply. Vauxhall.co.uk/webuyanycartoo.”
1. Two complainants, who understood Vauxhall promoted a part-exchange deal where customers could exchange cars with Vauxhall, whereas WeBuyAnyCar provided cash in exchange for customers’ cars, challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were misleading by not making this clear.
2. One complainant challenged whether the services did not meet the same need or intended purpose, and therefore breached the Code.
1. General Motors UK Ltd t/a Vauxhall said the terms of the offer appeared throughout ad(a), whereby the voice-over stated, “…on part exchanges” and “bring Vauxhall a quote from the leading online car buyer and we will beat it by £1,000 when you trade in your old car for a new Vauxhall.” The voice-over in both ads (a) and (b) repeated, “Offer on part exchanges for new passenger car orders from ...”. Finally, they said the full terms and conditions of the offer were also available for customers on vauxhall.co.uk.
Clearcast believed the voice-over “… we'll beat your quote from the well-known online car buyer by £1,000 on part exchanges” made clear that WeBuyAnyCar buy cars for cash and Vauxhall buys cars in part exchange.
Radiocentre said they thought the ad clearly stated “Bring Vauxhall a quote … and we’ll beat it by £1,000 when you trade in your old car for a brand new Vauxhall”.
2. Vauxhall said the ads explicitly stated that they would beat the valuation of the leading online car buyer when a customer traded in their old car for a new Vauxhall. They believed the customer could not be disadvantaged as they were offering a part exchange alternative to a cash sale, by which the customer would benefit if looking to buy a new Vauxhall. In both instances, they believed the customer getting rid of their old vehicle had a choice as to which route suited their needs.
Clearcast said viewers could get rid of their old car to either an online car buyer or could go to Vauxhall who would buy the car in part exchange. They said both services would take their car off their hands, whichever one the customer chose. They did not think customers were disadvantaged by the offer, as Vauxhall offered to take a customer’s old car off them and offered to beat the online car buyer quote by £1,000 towards a new car. Alternatively, if a customer did not want to replace their car, the online buyer would buy the car from them, albeit for less money.
Radiocentre said they did not feel that the ad needed to also state that the online car buyer only bought cars for cash and did not offer similar trade-ins/part-exchanges.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted the views of the complainants that the claim “We buy any car too” in ad (b) was technically inaccurate, as Vauxhall did not buy vehicles for cash, but part-exchanged them for other vehicles. We acknowledged that in this way the ads did not compare exact like-for-like services. However, we considered consumers would understand from the claim “Bring Vauxhall a quote from the leading online car buyer and we’ll beat it by £1000 when you trade in your old car for a brand new Vauxhall … Offer in part-exchange” in ad (b) that Vauxhall’s service involved receiving a new vehicle at a reduced price in exchange for their old vehicle, while the We Buy Any Car’s service involved just receiving the cash value of their current vehicle. We also considered that consumers would understand from the claim in ad (a) “… we’ll beat your quote from the well-known online car buyer by £1000 on part-exchanges” that Vauxhall offered a part-exchange service, while We Buy Any Car simply bought vehicles for cash. We considered that consumers would understand from both ads that if they traded in their vehicle at Vauxhall, they would receive £1000 more in value for their traded-in vehicle than whatever was quoted by the WeBuyAnyCar service.
Because the ad made the features of both offers sufficiently clear we concluded that the ads were not misleading.
We investigated ads (a) and (b) under BCAP Code rule 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading Advertising) and 3.33 3.33 Advertisements that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, consumers about either the advertised product or service or the competing product or service. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors), but did not find them in breach.
2. Not upheld
The Code required that ads compared products which met the same need or were intended for the same purpose. As mentioned above, we considered consumers would understand from the ads that Vauxhall’s service involved receiving a new vehicle in exchange for their old vehicle, while the comparator’s service involved customers just receiving the cash value of their current vehicle.
We considered that consumers who wanted to trade-in their vehicle and upgrade to a Vauxhall could either do so by taking up the offer promoted in the ad or receiving the cash value of their current vehicle from the competitor’s service and putting that value towards their purchase. While we acknowledged that some consumers might not want to receive a new vehicle and would rather receive the absolute cash value of their current vehicle, we considered there was a sufficient degree of interchangeability between the two services as both offered to take the consumers’ vehicles off their hands and recoup the value of their vehicle.
As such, we considered the ads compared services which met the same need and were intended for the same purpose. We therefore concluded the ads did not breach the Code on that point.
We investigated ads (a) and (b) under BCAP Code rule 3.34 3.34 Advertisements must compare products or services meeting the same need or intended for the same purpose. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors), but did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary.