An email from Pretty Little Thing, seen on 12 June 2023, featured the headline “JUST FOR YOU DOLL EXTRA 25% OFF SALE & ROYALTY FOR £3.99”. Further text stated “Re-join royalty now for £3.99 using your exclusive offer & get an extra 25% off sale too”, alongside a discount code. At the bottom of the email, the terms and conditions stated “EXTRA 25% OFF SALE + £3.99 ROYALTY: Extra 25% off excludes beauty purchases.”
The complainant, who attempted to use the discount code but was subsequently unable to redeem it, challenged whether the promotion was administered fairly.
Prettylittlething.com Ltd t/a Pretty Little Thing explained that “Royalty” was their premier delivery service. They confirmed that the promotion was intended to allow consumers to re-join the Royalty delivery service at a reduced rate of £3.99, and consumers who rejoined the scheme would also receive an extra 25% off sale items.
They said that upon notification of the complaint, they carried out an internal audit of the promotion. Following the audit, they confirmed that the wording of the ad was correct, but that an IT error had occurred which affected the discount code. They explained that when a customer tried to redeem the code, the IT system did not accept it, which resulted in the discount not being applied to sale items. They further stated that the IT error had since been fixed so that the code could be redeemed as intended.
They said that the complainant had been provided with the wrong information when they reported the incident to the Pretty Little Thing customer service team. They further stated that the incident was not reported internally, and as such, the issue was not investigated or resolved sooner.
The CAP Code stated that promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the ad that the promotional code enabled participants to re-join the “Royalty” delivery scheme for a reduced rate of £3.99 per year and to receive a 25% discount on sale items.
We understood that, having paid for the service, the complainant had attempted to redeem the promotion, but was not able to do so; specifically, although they were able to use the ‘premier delivery’ element of the service, the 25% discount had not been applied to sale items in their basket. We further understood that, after contacting Pretty Little Thing’s customer service team, the complainant was told that the promotional offer did not apply to sale items, and that they would be unable to redeem the advertised discount.
We acknowledged Pretty Little Thing’s explanation that the promotion had not been valid due to an IT error. However, because the complainant had been unable to redeem the promotion, despite contacting the customer services team, when the ad stated that the discount code could be redeemed against items on sale, we concluded that the promotion had not been administered fairly.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 8.2 (Promotional marketing).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Prettylittlething.com Ltd to ensure that their promotions were administered fairly.