Two ads for workwear and equipment, seen in July 2017:
a. A website, www.hivis.net, stated "CUSTOM EMBROIDERED POLO SHIRT ... £2.89 PLUS VAT. £3.47 INC VAT ...". Next to that was an image of the product, a polo shirt, which had "YOUR LOGO HERE" embroidered onto it.
Text below stated "PRODUCT DESCRIPTION. This Olympic Polo Shirt is our most popular - and comes to you at just £2.89 each - IF you are having them custom embroidered with text or logo (at additional cost) ... PRINT/EMBROIDER ON THIS ITEM. FRONT PRINTS FROM £1.45* + vat. BACK PRINTS FROM £1.95* + vat. We can print/embroider your logo onto this item for a small charge with free artwork creation ...".
b. A paid-for search result on Google stated "Custom Embroidered Polo Shirt - Navy £3.47 Hivis.net". It featured the same product image as in ad (a).
The complainant challenged whether the ads misleadingly implied that the custom embroidery was included in the stated price.
The Site Supply Company Ltd t/a Hivis.net did not believe the ads were misleading. They pointed out that in relation to ad (a), it stated in the text in the 'Product Description' box that embroidery was available at an additional cost, and stated what those costs were. They believed the ad set out that information clearly. They also pointed out that embroidery pricing information was provided throughout the ordering process. They said the product had been live on their website for several years and this was the first complaint they had received. Notwithstanding the above, The Site Supply Company said they were willing to make changes to their advertising.
In relation to ad (a), the ASA considered that the headline claim "Custom embroidered polo shirt" and product image which featured embroidery on the polo shirt stating "Your logo here" gave the impression that the price quoted in the ad ("£2.89 Plus VAT, £3.47 Inc VAT") included embroidery.
We noted the text below, which was not linked to the headline claims, which stated "If you are having them custom embroidered with text or logo (at additional cost)" and "Print/embroider on this item. Front Prints from £1.45* + VAT. Back Prints from £1.95* + VAT". We considered that text contradicted rather than qualified the headline claims. Whilst we noted there were references to embroidery costs during the ordering process, we considered they were insufficient because they featured later in the consumer journey once a decision to purchase the product had already been made, and that the costs should have been made sufficiently clear in the ad itself.
Because ad (a) gave the impression that the price of the polo shirts included embroidery, and that was not the case, we concluded that it was misleading.
In relation to ad (b), we considered that the image of the product which featured embroidery and the text stating "Custom Embroidered Polo Shirt" would be interpreted by consumers to mean the price quoted in the ad ("£3.47") included custom embroidery. Because that was not the case, we concluded ad (b) was also misleading.
The ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify.
Qualifications must be presented clearly.
CAP has published a Help Note on Claims that Require Qualification. (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 ads must not appear again in their current form. We told The Site Supply Company Ltd to ensure that in future they made sufficiently clear that custom embroidery had an additional cost that was not included in the headline price.