Ad description

A page on the Taylor Wimpey website, advertising new build flats, featured a series of images of a flat for sale including an image of a bathroom. A claim on the image stated "Image from actual show home".


The complainant challenged whether the image of the bathroom was misleading because she understood that Taylor Wimpey did not finish homes to that standard, even when an upgrade was available.


Taylor Wimpey UK Ltd said the complaint in question broke down into two key issues; the first being in relation to the particular ad to which the complaint related. That ad had been withdrawn from Taylor Wimpey's website immediately after the complaint had been raised and was no longer in use. The second, and more difficult issue, was how to address the position across all of Taylor Wimpey's ads for properties, and also the changes that this would mean for the house building industry as a whole in the UK.

Taylor Wimpey explained that on any new build housing development (whether traditional houses or flats) there would be a number of different types of housing unit constructed, with different numbers of bedrooms, floor plans, gardens (if applicable) and room layouts. In most rooms the extent of the fittings and options was not extensive, generally being flooring, wall colour and light fittings. However, in any new build property there were two main rooms, the bathroom and kitchen, in which there would be a much greater range of standard, upgraded or bespoke fit-outs and options available. The picture of the bathroom in the ad was from the show home on the development to which it related, and the text in the photograph made that clear. However, not all the tiling shown in the bathroom photograph was included within the standard or upgraded bathroom packages. This additional tiling was available if a customer specifically made a request for it and it was a bespoke package item.

Taylor Wimpey said a picture of a show home would illustrate how the property on the same development could look but, in practice, any photograph could only ever be representative and will not exactly match every property. It was normal, and indeed unavoidable, in the house building industry that a picture of the interior of a show home may not be the same as the home which was purchased by a customer for many reasons, for example the customer may specify different bespoke options outside of the normal packages. Some items shown in the show home pictures would never be included in a sale, e.g. furniture, pictures, towels, etc. while others might be discontinued and could no longer be provided for a customer even if originally they were part of the standard or upgraded options. This was because it may take a number of years for all the properties on a development site to sell, so product lines used to fit-out the show home at the start of the development may no longer be available when later properties were sold. Also other properties on the development would have a different floor plan, room size, etc. to the show home. As a result there would always be potential or actual mismatch between a show home (and pictures thereof) and the actual property purchased.

Taylor Wimpey said that the headline price quoted on the ad was for the property with the standard specification and the price was prefixed with the word "From" indicating that, depending upon the options chosen, the price may be higher. The separate wording on the picture accurately disclaimed it so that it was not misleading. The same upgrade package on one development may differ in price for different properties on that development; for example, additional bathroom tiling may cost more for a property which has a larger bathroom compared with a property on the same development which has a smaller bathroom. This was normal within the house building industry. Also different marketing and sales prices were used for every development as, although each of the different types of housing unit may be to some extent fairly standard in core design, the actual location, site, aspect, target buyers, local property market, fit-out, etc. for each development and each housing unit on a development would be unique. The market for each was therefore different and this was reflected in the fit-out and pricing of upgrades and what was included in the base price. The base price was therefore unique to each individual housing unit on a development.

Taylor Wimpey said they understood that the Code required ads to be clear on price and not misleading. The Code, however, appeared to be written with the advertising of a standard product in mind and was not as easy to apply to their sector, in which they were supplying what was more akin to a bespoke product as each housing unit would be unique. The cost of an upgrade package or any bespoke options on a development would depend on the particular individual housing unit on that development to which it related.

Taylor Wimpey suggested, where it knew that a picture contained options not within the standard and upgrade packages, that it would qualify the photograph with the words "Photograph shown is representative only. Please check with our sales executive for details of the exact specification available at this development". Taylor Wimpey felt that this would cover all the eventualities as to why there may be a difference between the show home and the actual bathroom specified by a customer.

Taylor Wimpey believed that the most important price for a customer to be able to compare properties, irrespective of location or builder, was the base price which was the only consistent basis of price comparison across the industry. If prices quoted were not the base price then this in itself could be misleading for customers as they would not be comparing like with like. In any event, upgrade prices were only a small percentage addition to the base price. In addition, customers expected that a price quoted would be the base price and need not be the total price if additional items or upgrade packages were requested. This was true of new build properties in the same way as prices in ads for private residential sales, where only the base price would be quoted and fixtures and fittings would generally be at an additional cost to be agreed with the vendor.

Taylor Wimpey also believed conveying a more complex level of pricing detail in an ad was not practical and was more likely to confuse customers. That level of detail and complexity was best left to the consultation stage with a customer when a sales representative would discuss and agree with the customer the options they wish to specify for a particular property, which would then be agreed in the final sale contract.



The ASA noted that the Code required price statements to relate to the product featured in the ad. We noted however that the new build flat advertised showed an image of a bathroom which included a number of bespoke upgrades, specifically tiled bath panels and chrome finishes, which were not included in the headline price. We considered that consumers would infer that those items would be included but were likely to understand that accessories such as towels and the pot were featured for show home purposes only.

We considered that the disclaimer "Image from actual show home" was likely to be understood by customers to mean that the layout might be different in other flats and that this was how it would look when accessorised, but were still likely to think the bathroom available for the headline price would have the panels and chrome finishes shown.

We noted the headline price was already prefixed with "from" and that Taylor Wimpey had offered to add qualifying text to such pictures which explained that the pictures were illustrative but we did not consider that such text would be sufficient as the headline price would still not relate to the product featured. While we understood the difficulties in featuring pictures of properties which they did not have, we considered that Taylor Wimpey should have instead used a picture that was representative of the room that was included in the headline price (for example, a digitally altered picture of the showroom or a mock-up picture) or made clear what the cost would be to achieve the bathroom depicted by either adjusting the headline price to include the cost or stating alongside the headline "from" price in prominent text the cost of the bathroom featured. Because they had not done so, we concluded 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.  and  3.3 3.3 Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means.
 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Qualification) 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 Taylor Wimpey to ensure that quoted prices matched the properties featured.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

3.1     3.17     3.3    

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