A website for Harveys Furniture, www.harveysfurniture.co.uk, seen on 28 July, promoted a "Toulouse Large Sideboard". Text next to a picture of the sideboard stated "Was £499 - Now £399 - Save £100". Small text beneath the picture of the ad said the previous price applied from 14/06/17 to 20/06/17.
The complainant, who had visited Harveys Furniture on several occasions and found the sideboard had been £399 on each occasion, challenged whether the savings claim was misleading and could be substantiated.
Steinhoff UK Retail Ltd t/a Harveys Furniture said it was not possible to obtain a snapshot of the website on any particular day. They said the comparison on the website was accurate in respect of its content, dates and the prices offered and provided clearly the terms of the comparison for the complainant to make an informed choice.
Harveys Furniture said that generally their store prices matched those on the website but that they were unable to cross-check because they believed the nature of the complaint was imprecise. Without detail of which stores the complainant had visited and when, they said they were unable to determine whether the information the stores had presented was correct.
Harveys Furniture confirmed that from 14 to 20 June 2017, the item was offered at £499 and a total of 13 units were sold before it was reduced to £399.
The ASA considered that consumers were likely to understand the claim "Save £100" to represent a genuine saving against the usual selling price for the products at the time the ads appeared.
Harveys Furniture did not provide a pricing history for the item and in the absence of such evidence we could not determine whether the higher price on which the saving was based was the usual selling price of the product.
We also noted that the ad included smaller, less prominent text which indicated that the product had been available at the higher price for a period of six days. Given that, we considered it was unlikely that the higher price was the price at which the product was usually sold at the time the ad appeared or that the savings claim represented a genuine saving against the usual selling price. We therefore considered that the small print also contradicted the impression that £100 could be saved against the usual selling price of the product at the time the ad appeared.
We concluded that the savings claim had not been substantiated and 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) 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 ads must not appear again in its current form. We told Harveys Furniture to ensure their future savings claims did not mislead and to ensure they held evidence to substantiate savings against the usual selling price of their products.