An e-mail promoting www.oakfurnitureland.co.uk, sent 17 May 2013, stated "4 DAY SPECTACULAR must end Sunday!" and featured a range of products at sale prices, including the "Chaucer Solid Oak Large Sideboard ... was: £838.49 ... Savings Price £394.95".
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading, because it implied the promoted prices were only available for a limited time, whereas he understood they were the advertiser's standard prices.
JB Global Ltd t/a Oak Furniture Land (Oak Furniture Land) stated that the items selected for various promotions and offers were chosen by different departments and for a variety of reasons. They explained that the "Chaucer Solid Oak Large Sideboard" had erroneously been selected by two different departments to be included in two distinctly separate promotions that ran very close together. They stated that it had been included in the "4 DAY SPECTACULAR" promotion and offered for £394.95, that the price had then increased before being lowered again for the second promotion.
Oak Furniture Land were not able to provide evidence to show that the "was" price of £838.49 was the price the "Chaucer Solid Oak Large Sideboard" was usually sold at prior to either promotion, or that any of the "was" prices listed in the e-mail were accurate. They stated, however, that they could demonstrate that the products had been offered to consumers at the "was" prices previously. In addition, they said as a result of the complaint they intended to review their marketing e-mails and how they communicated with their database.
The ASA noted that Oak Furniture Land were not able to provide evidence, such as invoices or sales receipts, showing that the promoted "was" prices for all the products featured in the ad, including the "Chaucer Solid Oak Large Sideboard", reflected the prices at which the products were usually sold. We understood that the discounted "Savings Prices" listed were time-limited, but noted that often different departments ran very similar promotions resulting in similar "savings" prices being offered within a short space of time. We also understood that although the price of those items would increase once the promotion had completed, and they had previously been offered to consumers at the "was" prices, Oak Furniture Land were not able to show that they had ever been sold at that those prices. Because Oak Furniture Land had not provided evidence to show that the "was" prices stated in the ad were the prices at which the products were usually sold, we concluded that the ad was misleading and in breach of the Code.
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), 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration), 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 8.2 8.2 Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. (Sales promotions).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Oak Furniture Land to ensure they did not state or imply that their savings prices were time-limited or promotional, if they actually reflected the prices at which the items were usually sold.