A website for Goldsmiths, www.goldsmiths.co.uk, seen on 30 September 2020, showed a pair of Mappin & Webb Fortune White Gold and Diamond Hoop Earrings priced at £3,375.00 with a “was” price of £7,500.00 crossed through.
IssueThe complainant, who had bought the earrings at the reduced price in December 2019 but had never seen them sold at the £7,500.00 price, challenged whether the savings claim was misleading.
Watches of Switzerland Company Ltd t/a Goldsmiths said that the recommended retail price for the white gold and diamond earrings when first advertised in July 2013 to September 2013 was £7,050. From September 2013 to November 2016 the product was advertised at the price of £6,950 and from November 2016 to December 2019 it was advertised at £7,500. The price changes were due to fluctuations in the price of gold and diamonds.
The product had been advertised at £7,500 for three years immediately before it was discounted in December 2019 when the complainant purchased it and the discounted price had not been offered for longer than the full price. They said that at the time of receiving the complaint the product was valued at £6,750 which showed a significant saving and proved that the saving claimed in the advert seen in September 2020 was not materially misleading. They said that they followed the relevant pricing guidance and ensured that the full price had been advertised for a longer period than the discounted price and the period during which the discounted price was offered was shorter than the period that the product was offered at the full price.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the ad that the “was” price of £7,500 was the usual selling price of the product and that the advertised price of £3,375 represented a genuine saving against the usual selling price of the product at the time the ad appeared. Based on the pricing history provided by the advertiser, we understood that although the product was sold at the higher price of £7,500 for three years prior to being discounted in December 2019, the product was advertised at the discounted price of £3,375 for a period of ten months before the ad was seen in September 2020. We considered that ten months was a sufficient amount of time to establish the usual selling price of the product as £3,375. We concluded that because consumers were likely to understand that the “was” price of £7,500 was the usual selling price of the product, the savings claim 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) 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 Watches of Switzerland Company Ltd t/a Goldsmiths to ensure that their future ads did not mislead and that their savings claims were made against the usual selling price of the product.