A website for the children's toy retailer Kiddies Kingdom, www.kiddies-kingdom.com, seen on 28 January 2019, featured a listing for a Maxi Cosi Pebble Group 0+ Car Seat With Family Fix Base-Black Raven. In a box below the price, text stated, "Seen it cheaper? Price Match it now + 15% difference". The text was hyperlinked to a page that stated, "Find it cheaper & we'll match the price plus 15% of the difference! terms apply...". Further down this page was a list of terms and conditions, one of which read, "The Kiddies Kingdom price match will not apply to items that result in Kiddies Kingdom making a loss to match".
Two complainants, who tried to redeem the price match offer but were told that they could not do so because Kiddies Kingdom would incur a loss, challenged whether the promotion was misleading and unfair.
Kiddies Kingdom Ltd responded to the complaint to clarify the steps a visitor to their website would take in order to receive information about the price match, but did not comment further on the complaint.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the text that stated, "Seen it cheaper? Price Match it now + 15% difference" that Kiddies Kingdom would match the price of a competing retailer that sold the same product at a lower price, and would provide an additional reduction of 15% of the difference between the two prices. Consumers would therefore believe that, if they bought from Kiddies Kingdom, they could not end up paying more than they would if they bought from another retailer.
The price match information page – accessed by clicking the hyperlinked text – stated, “Like the reassurance of buying from one of the largest independent nursery retailers in the country but don't like the idea of paying too much? Not a problem! We work hard every day to bring you the best possible prices. But sometimes, somewhere, someone is selling the item you want for less. Let us help!” Scrolling down that page revealed the full terms and conditions, which indicated that consumers would need to have a Kiddies Kingdom order number in order to qualify, meaning that they would need to buy the product before applying for the price match, and included a number of standard terms for such offers, such as the requirement for the product being sold by the competitor to be identical to the one sold by Kiddies Kingdom. The final term stated that "The Kiddies Kingdom price match will not apply to items that result in Kiddies Kingdom making a loss to match".
Consumers would expect that they could not end up paying more for the product at Kiddies Kingdom than they would at another retailer, however, the term that stated that the promise would not be honoured if it resulted in Kiddies Kingdom making a loss, meant that this was not the case. We considered, therefore, that the price match claims were misleading. Moreover, it was clearly not possible for consumers to know when the terms of the promotion would be satisfied, because they could not know when honouring the price match would result in Kiddies Kingdom making a loss. We considered that the term was therefore fundamentally unfair.
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) and 8.2 (Sales promotions).
The price match must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Kiddies Kingdom Ltd to ensure in future that any price match promotion did not misleadingly imply consumers could not end up paying more for the product at Kiddies Kingdom than at other retailers, and did not contain unfair terms like those that state the price match will not be honoured if it would result in them making a loss.