A TV ad and a website for Love Windows, seen in late July and August 2018:
a. The TV ad featured an actress in a house, motioning at the windows. She said, “I know what you're thinking - oh my, triple glazed windows like these three from Love Windows at only £299 each - but there's no catch. Get triple glazed, energy efficient windows, multi-point locking, any size and fully fitted, and a 15-year guarantee, all for one fixed price of just £299 each. And no confusing sales offers to worry about.” On-screen text stated “A+ Triple Glazed”, “Multi Point Locking”, “Fully Fitted”, “15 Year Guarantee”, and “Triple Glazed White Windows Only £299 each”.
b. The website www.lovewindows.co.uk, featured a large banner at the top of the home page, with text stating “Buy Any Size Fully Fitted Window: - Triple Glazed A+ Rated Energy Efficient - High Security Multi Point Locking System - All for one FIXED price £299 each”. Below that, hyperlinked text stated “GET A FREE QUOTE”. Under the heading “WHY CHOOSE LOVE WINDOWS” the page included an embedded video of the TV ad, alongside text stating “Just One Fixed Price - £299 Per Window” and “No Confusing Sales Offers”.
Two complainants, whose quotes from Love Windows were higher than £299 per window, challenged whether the claims “one fixed price of just £299 each” and “Buy Any Size Fully Fitted Window” were misleading and could be substantiated.
Love Windows said the £299 per window offer applied to triple glazed, white windows with one opening, and in any size or style. They said that a window made of three separate sections constituted three windows, for example, they classed the bay window that the actress indicated to in the TV ad as three separate windows that would cost £299 each. Love Windows said there were additional fees for windows in other colours or with more than one opening, but that the £299 price still applied if a customer required the installation of one window only.
Love Windows said one of the complainants received a quote that was over £299 per window for two windows because building work was required to add lintel supports. They said the £299 price was for window replacements only, and if a customer required building work such as scaffolding and lintels they always advised them to arrange that separately, or provided a quote with fees for the building work in addition to the replacement of the windows. They said each job was different and that particular job had its own unique situation.
Clearcast, responding in relation to the TV ad, said that when reviewing the claims and their details, they asked the advertiser to confirm that the windows shown in the ad were available with double glazing, ‘A’ rated energy efficiency, multi-point locking, and fully fitted, for £299 per window. The advertiser had confirmed that was correct and that the windows featured and demonstrated in ad (a) were an accurate representation of what the consumer would receive at that price.
Clearcast said the advertiser had confirmed there were no terms and conditions relevant to the advertised product and price. Clearcast had determined that different variants of the windows which were not shown in the ad (such as different colours or patterns) would be subject to different prices. However, because the actress in ad (a) had clearly communicated “windows like these three” and gestured to the product, a bay window with three panels, they considered it was fair for the advertiser to only state the price for the indicated product. They also highlighted that the voice-over explained the £299 price was for triple glazed, fully fitted windows, and that Love Windows had advised that the only scenario in which their prices increased was when windows were different colours other than white, in which case the price increased by 30%.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the claims “one fixed price of just £299 each” and “Buy Any Size Fully Fitted Window” in ads (a) and (b) that they would only pay a fixed price of £299 for a window of any size that was installed by Love Windows. Both ads also referred to the price of the window being “fixed” with “no catch” and “no confusing sales offers” which added to the impression that no further cost would apply to the advertised amount.
We understood from ads (a) and (b) that the price applied to a triple glazed, fully fitted window with a multi-point lock, with ad (a) specifically referencing white windows. Ad (a) illustrated that a bay window would be classed as three separate windows which would be charged at £299 each under the offer. The ad did not feature any additional on-screen text to set out any exceptions or charges which may be incurred by consumers under the offer. Additionally, ad (b) did not include any exclusions or circumstances in which additional costs may be incurred and did not clarify that the offer only applied to white windows. In the absence of any qualifications in the ads, we considered that consumers would not expect to incur additional charges.
We understood that one complainant was charged additional fees for having their windows measured as well as for building works that were required when fitting their windows. We asked the advertiser for information in order to establish how often additional building work was required and how often customers were charged more than £299 per window due to other factors; no response was received. As a result we were not able to determine whether such additional charges applied only in a minority of cases and that the price of £299 per window was therefore an achievable price for most consumers.
Because consumers were likely to understand from the ads that they would be able to pay the price of £299 per window including installation, we considered that additional charges that consumers could incur in addition to the fixed price advertised was material information that was likely to affect a consumer’s transactional decision and should have been included in ads (a) and (b).
Because ads (a) and (b) did not make sufficiently clear that there were circumstances where additional charges could be incurred on top of the advertised price, we concluded that the ads were misleading.
Ad (a) breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.10 3.10 Advertisements must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification) 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).
Ad (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification) and 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Prices).
Ads (a) and (b) must not appear again in their current form. We told Love Windows Ltd to ensure that their ads did not mislead consumers by stating that they would pay a fixed price of £299 and to ensure their ads clearly stated the circumstances in which additional costs would be incurred.