A website for Pioneer Bathrooms, www.heatandplumb.com, seen on 2 August 2017, featured a banner which stated “USE CODE 5OFF5- SPEND £500 - GET 5% OFF WHEN YOU SPEND £500 on selected items”. A timer was shown which counted down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the offer ended.
The complainant, who understood the timer reset when it reached zero, challenged whether the ad was misleading because it implied that the offer was on for a limited time.
Pioneer Bathrooms Ltd t/a HeatandPlumb.com acknowledged that their website regularly included similar offers but said that each promotion was for a different range of products. They said that when customers clicked on the banner, it led them to a different page that listed the products included in the promotion.
HeatandPlumb.com said they had amended the design of their banners so that it was clear which products were included in the promotion.
The ASA considered that consumers would interpret the ad to mean the 5% discount was only available during a promotional period, which would finish at the end of the countdown of the time displayed. We also considered the phrase “HURRY ENDS IN” implied that the discount was for a limited time, rather than being part of an on-going rotation of discounted products.
We acknowledged that HeatandPlumb.com said they regularly ran similar promotions but for different products. However, we had not been provided with any documentary evidence to demonstrate that the discount for each product was only available during the limited time indicated by the timer. Furthermore, we noted from the website that the “5OFF5” discount code could be successfully applied to products that were not included in the stated selected lines, suggesting that the discount was not in fact time-limited because the offer would continue to apply to those products after the offer had changed to promote a different set of products. We considered that consumers might make a decision to make a purchase on the basis that the promotion period was about to end, which we understood was not the case.
Because we had not seen evidence that the discount offer was genuinely time-limited, we concluded 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) and 8.17.4.e 8.17.4.e Closing dates must not be changed unless unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the promoter make it necessary and either not to change the date would be unfair to those who sought to participate within the original terms, or those who sought to participate within the original terms will not be disadvantaged by the change. (Significant conditions for promotions).
The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Pioneer Bathrooms Ltd to ensure their marketing communications did not misleadingly imply products were on promotion for a limited period.