Claims on www.bathrooms.com, for various bathroom products. Text on the home page stated, "SALE UP TO 75% OFF MADERNO FREESTANDING BATH TYPICAL RRP £1999 NOW ONLY £499". Text on a product page for the same bath stated, "Usually £679 Now £499 Typical RRP £1999 Save 76%". Text on a product page for a hand shower, priced at £19, stated, "SAVE 52% ... Usually £19 ... Typical RRP: £39 Sale item".
Victoria Plumb Ltd, who understood that the advertised products were exclusive to the advertiser, challenged whether the "typical RRP" price claims and the savings claims on which they were based, were misleading and could be substantiated.
IJM Enterprises Ltd t/a bathrooms.com said the RRPs that appeared on their website were based on prices of products of similar design and specification found on the high street or sold online by high-street retailers in their sector. They said they reviewed their RRPs regularly to ensure they were in line with the market and did not mislead consumers. They provided examples of similar products on which their RRP claims were based.
The ASA noted that the savings claims in the ads had been based on the stated RRPs. We considered that consumers would understand the RRP claims to mean that the same products were generally sold by other retailers at the stated prices, and that they could make savings of the stated amounts by shopping at bathrooms.com. We would therefore need to see documentary evidence to demonstrate that the products were generally sold at those prices across the market.
We understood that the products were exclusive to bathrooms.com and that the RRP claims had therefore been based on the prices of similar products. However, because the products themselves were not stocked by any other retailers, bathrooms.com were not in a position to demonstrate that the stated RRPs were the prices at which they were sold by other retailers across the market. We therefore concluded that the RRP claims, and the savings claims on which they were based, were misleading.
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 3.40 3.40 Price comparisons must not mislead by falsely claiming a price advantage. Comparisons with a recommended retail prices (RRPs) are likely to mislead if the RRP differs significantly from the price at which the product or service is generally sold. (Price comparisons).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told IJM Enterprises Ltd to ensure that future references to RRPs reflected the price at which the products concerned were generally sold across the market. We told them not to quote RRP prices for products that were only sold by them.