An offer on the website www.moneysupermarket.com, seen on 14 November 2012, advertised a restaurant offer headed "Red Letter Days presents: African-inspired three course meal with cocktail for two at Shaka Zulu - Voucher value: £98.00." Text stated "... Very limited availability in December. Lunch bookings 12:00 - 15:00; dinner bookings from 17:00. Excludes Saturdays after 19:00, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and Valentine's Day ... 'Spirit of Africa' menu is subject to change. Orders fulfilled by Red Letter Days. Discount based on redletterdays.co.uk original selling price - verified 31st Oct 2012".
A complainant challenged whether the original value of the offer was exaggerated and could be substantiated.
Moneysupermarket.com (Moneysupermarket) said they had received confirmation from Red Letter Days that they did not offer the same menu package anywhere else at a different price. They said a £19 menu with different food choices and two early bird menus at £14.95 for three courses and £12.95 for two courses, available Tuesdays to Thursdays before 7pm and Fridays to Sundays before 6.30pm, were available through other promoters.
The complainant challenged the £98 value of the offer because, when he tried to take it up, he was told that it was available before 7pm only, when he could have eaten from essentially the same menu (the early bird menu) for considerably less. The terms and conditions of the £98 offer stated that it was not available after 7pm on Saturdays but did not state that that restriction applied on other days of the week. Moneysupermarket had not supplied evidence (in the form of transaction records, for instance) that showed that the offer had been available after 7pm on the days advertised (excluding Saturday). We considered that restriction would be a significant factor for customers who were deciding whether it was worth them taking up the offer. In practice, therefore, the only time the £98 offer was available coincided with the early bird menu, when customers could eat from essentially the same menu for considerably less. Because of that, we concluded that Moneysupermarket had not substantiated the £98 value of the offer and that the ad was 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), 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), 3.17 3.17 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product featured in the marketing communication. (Prices) 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 Moneysupermarket to ensure their ads stated significant limitations and qualifications that applied to offers in future.