A web page describing a kitchen sale, seen on www.wickes.co.uk on 9 May 2017, stated “50% off kitchen units”.
The complainant challenged whether the savings claim was misleading and could be substantiated.
Wickes Building Supplies Ltd (Wickes) stated that the dates of the sale and the period over which the higher prices were available were clearly set out on the same web page on which the ad appeared. They believed that a longer sale period was reasonable based on the length of the customer journey when making such a significant purchase as a kitchen, because it allowed an informed, unhurried decision to be made. They understood that some other retailers in the industry adopted similarly longer sale periods in relation to kitchens. Wickes provided a pricing history for the range of 28 kitchens that were included in the sale from August 2016 to May 2017. They believed that the ad had not breached the Code.
The ASA considered that consumers were likely to understand “50% off kitchen units” to represent a genuine saving against the usual selling price for the units at the time the ad appeared.
The promotional period represented in the ad ran from 29 March 2017 to 29 May 2017, a total of 61 days. Immediately prior to this, there was a period of 28 days in which there was no promotion on the products in question. We considered that the sales period was materially longer than the non-promotional period that preceded it. Furthermore, we noted that between 30 August 2016 and 9 May 2017 (when the ad was seen), there were 79 days when the kitchen units were at “full price”, and 138 days with a “50% off” promotion. We considered that the sales history provided indicated that the price comparison had been made for a materially longer period than the higher prices were offered. We therefore considered that the higher prices were not the usual selling prices for the units at the time the ad appeared. We concluded that the associated savings claim had not been substantiated and was therefore 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 ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Wickes Building Supplies Ltd to ensure their future savings claims represented genuine savings against the usual selling prices of their products.