A website, www.poundland.co.uk, for a retailer stated on the "About Us" page, "Our Values Everything for £1 was the idea of our founders in 1990 and we're still true to that great vision today". Upon clicking on "Our Values", consumers were directed to the "Our Values" page that featured further text which stated "Everything for £1 was the idea of our founders in 1990 and we've grown to become the largest single price value retailer in the UK, with over 500 stores ... The same amazing price since 1990! ... We are very proud to offer you a single £1 price, that hasn't changed since we opened our first store".
1. Two complainants, who understood that the advertiser had conducted sales promotions on products that cost over £1, challenged whether the claims that all items were £1 were misleading and could be substantiated.
2. One complainant, who understood that the advertiser was selling DVDs and CDs above £1, challenged whether the claims that all items were £1 were misleading and could be substantiated.
1. Poundland Ltd stated that all their ordinary products were priced at £1, with the exception of items that fell under their "conditional spend" promotion, which were only available at point-of-sale (POS). They stated that an average Poundland store stocked approximately 4,000 products and that the "conditional spend" promotion was created in response to consumer demand. In October 2014, Poundland obtained feedback from consumers regarding the promotion and found that a significant proportion agreed that they would buy items from Poundland that cost more than £1, provided they were clearly marked and located in a special place in the shop.
Poundland stated that products that fell under the "conditional spend" promotion were offered for sale in a different way to their £1 products. They stated that when consumers spent more than the conditional spend threshold at the till, the cashier would at that point offer them the opportunity to purchase the promotional item. They stated that this meant that a customer could not inadvertently select a promotional item while shopping around the store and they were not available for sale unless the conditional spend threshold was met. Furthermore, if the item was relatively large, it was displayed in a stand-alone unit that was located as close as possible to the POS.
Poundland stated that their website clearly identified the products that were distinct from their usual £1 items and only available for purchase under the "conditional spend" promotion. They stated that those items were described as "conditional promotions" and that the terms and conditions were made clear to consumers.
2. Poundland stated that the DVD promotion was introduced for a trial period as a concession arrangement with a third party in a small number of their stores. They stated that the concession was segregated from all other standard products that retailed at £1 and that the DVDs were clearly priced at £2. They considered that this made it clear to consumers that the DVD promotion was distinct from their normal product range of £1 items and consequentially, a different offer was being made.
1. & 2. Upheld
We acknowledged that the majority of Poundland's products retailed at £1 and that items that cost above that amount could only be purchased from the DVD concession or through the "conditional spend" promotion. We noted that the promotional items would only be offered to consumers who spent the necessary amount of money that qualified them for the offer and would only be made available at the POS. Furthermore, we understood that the DVDs sold at Poundland were shelved on a concession that was segregated from their £1 products.
However, we considered that the claims "Everything for £1 was the idea of our founders in 1990 and we're still true to that great vision today", "Everything for £1 was the idea of our founders in 1990 and we've grown to become the largest single price value retailer in the UK", "The same amazing price since 1990!" and "We are very proud to offer you a single £1 price, that hasn't changed since we opened our first store", suggested that every item sold by Poundland cost £1, regardless of whether or not they were sold via a concession arrangement or as promotional goods that were not otherwise available for purchase. Therefore, because that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code 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) and 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).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Poundland Ltd that their future advertising must not state or suggest that every item they sold cost £1.