A website for My Fitted Bedroom, www.myfittedbedroom.com, seen on 30 December 2022. Text stated, “HALF PRICE multi-buy CELEBRATIONS … We can offer a half price saving with our multi-buy promotion. Buy 5 or more units and the economies of scale in our manufacturing process means we can offer you the best value and price”, followed by a link to their fitted wardrobes product page. Smaller text under the offer stated “50% off multi-buy offer available when you buy 5 or more units...”.
The complainant, who understood the offer had been available for a number of months, challenged whether the savings claims were misleading.
We Fit Any Furniture Ltd said that the multi-buy promotion applied to all ranges, and was an ongoing programme, with no end date intended or shown. They said that they had not intended to imply that the offer was time limited. They provided us with sales information relating to the previous 12 months, which they believed showed that the multi-buy promotion represented a genuine saving to prospective consumers. They also said that they considered it to be common for consumers to purchase fewer than five units when purchasing bedroom furniture.
The ASA noted the ad’s claim that We Fit Any Furniture were offering “HALF PRICE multi-buy CELEBRATIONS”, and that consumers could achieve a half-price saving when they purchased “5 or more units”. The ad was themed around the then upcoming new year’s celebrations, which we considered was reinforced by the wider style and appearance of the section of the website on which it appeared. We considered that the presentation of the offer was linked to the time of year when time limited sales and promotions were commonplace. In the absence of any text stating that the offer was ongoing, and did not have an end date, we considered that consumers were likely to assume that the offer was a time-limited sale. We considered that consumers were likely to understand from the ad that they would be able to make a genuine saving against the usual selling price for five or more individual bedroom units, at the time the ad appeared.
We noted that the Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s (CTSI) Guidance “Traders on Pricing Practices”, which offered practical advice to traders on consumer protection laws and associated practices, stated that “If your proposed pricing practice explicitly or by implication indicates a saving against another price you must be able to satisfy yourself that the quoted saving is genuine and is therefore not unfair”. We also noted that the guidance advised that the practice was less likely to comply if a retailer could not provide evidence to show that significant sales were made at the higher price, when compared to the promotional price. The number of individual units sold which qualified for the multi-buy promotion, compared to the number which did not qualify, was therefore likely to be an important consideration in determining whether the savings advertised by We Fit Any Kitchen were genuine.
We Fit Any Furniture told us that the average number of units included in a bedroom suite purchase, in the 12 months prior to the ad being seen, was nine units. They also said that 34% of bedroom suites sold in that timeframe had included fewer than five units, and had therefore not qualified for the multi-buy promotion. They did not, however, provide us with a full pricing history for all eligible products, including the details of the number of sales made at the “half price” price, and the number of sales made at the regular, full price. We were therefore unable to determine whether significant sales had been made at the higher price.
In addition, we considered that multi-buy offers were typically made in circumstances where the offer incentivised consumers to buy more than they otherwise would, in order to obtain a lower cost per item, and achieve better overall value. It was not clear there would be an incentive for consumers to purchase more units in this case because they were likely to have a set number of units in mind when planning a bedroom. The incentive to purchase more units, therefore, would be inherently impacted by other factors, such as the wider bedroom design, and space. As above, we did not have the full pricing history, so we were unable to infer from sales how likely it was that the offer provided an incentive to buy more units. In any case, because the ad was likely to be interpreted as offering a discount against the usual price of 5 units or more, which was not the case, it was likely to mislead. For those reasons, we concluded that the savings claims were misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.17 (Prices).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told We Fit Any Furniture Ltd to ensure that future savings claims did not mislead and to ensure they substantiated savings against the usual selling prices of their products. We also told them not to present promotions as time-limited if that was not the case.