A TV ad for Safestyle UK, featured a character who stated, "… we got 55% off" as on-screen text stated the same. The voice-over stated, "Get your free 55% off quote today …" as on-screen text stated "55% OFF NEW WINDOWS AND DOORS".
The complainant challenged whether the claim "Get your 55% off quote today" was misleading.
HPAS Ltd t/a Safestyle UK said the complainant had received two quotations but had not made a purchase. Both quotations were provided before the complainant had seen the ad. They said they did not keep records of every sales interaction where no sale was made. They believed, however, that the quotation the complainant had been given − for a front door with side panels − included a greater than 55% discount off their cheapest list price for a panel door. While side panels were priced separately, the quotation they understood the complainant had been given also included a greater than 55% discount for the cheapest door and panel combination, which was likely to be as a result of negotiations that had taken place during the sales meeting.
They said they had a rolling schedule of offer and non-offer prices and during the previous six months there had been 86 offer days, with a further 86 non-offer days. They said given the schedule, and similarly to other retailers that offered periodic sales, it was possible, if not likely, that consumers would see a number of different promotional Safestyle ads before either responding or making a purchase. For example, 50% of customers that received a quotation but did not make a purchase during a short non-offer period in January 2015 subsequently placed an order during a promotional period. Safestyle provided a copy of their list prices for panel doors as well as details of the history of their promotional prices. They also provided a sample of contracts from the promotional period complained about, which they said showed the offer was genuine and had been taken up by customers, as well as examples of sales made during non-offer periods.
Clearcast said they had taken care to discuss what was needed to support the pricing claims. They had informed the agency that the prices must represent genuine discounts and they had provided a signed letter from Safestyle during the clearance process to confirm that was the case and that the products had been sold without discount for at least the previous 93 days at the time of clearance. Safestyle had informed Clearcast that because all items were made to measure, they did not have price lists as such but that any full prices would be discounted by 55%. Clearcast had also requested that Safestyle provide confirmation from someone legally qualified that the ad was accurate and not misleading, which they had received. They said the information that had been provided left them confident the offer was genuine.
The ASA considered viewers were likely to understand the claims to mean that at the time the ad appeared Safestyle were, for a promotional period, offering 55% off the prices at which they usually sold their products. We noted that while Safestyle did not have documentation to demonstrate that the quotations the complainant had received represented a 55% saving, due to the sale not having been completed, the contracts provided indicated that during the relevant promotional period the customers concerned had received discounts of 55% off the list prices stated on them.
However, we noted that from the beginning of 2015 until the time the complainant saw the ad in early March there had been only one three-day period, in January, at which no promotional price was offered against Safestyle's standard prices. Although there had also been a non-promotional period of 35 days at the end of 2014, the products had been offered at either 55% off or (for 14 days) on a buy-one-get-one free promotion for the majority of the preceding three months.
Because the products had been available at the 55% off promotional price, and at other promotional prices, for a period that exceeded those at which the full price was available during the months leading up to the identical promotion, we considered the 55% saving claim was not based on the price at which the products were usually sold. Because we considered that the claim would be understood to be based on the usual selling price of the products, but that was not the case, we concluded that the ads were likely to mislead consumers as to the savings available.
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 be broadcast again in its current form. We told Safestyle UK to ensure their future savings claims did not mislead about the benefit available.