An ad for a cutlery set, seen on www.wowcher.co.uk in April 2017, stated “NOW £6.99 … £56.99 [crossed out] … Save 88%”.
The complainant challenged whether the savings claims were misleading and could be substantiated.
Wowcher Ltd said the deal referred to in the ad was for a 32-piece cutlery set comprising two 16-piece sets. They provided a screenshot from the supplier’s website showing that the original price per set was £29.99. The price for two sets was £59.98. There was free postage and packing on the supplier’s website, so Wowcher deducted the value of their own £2.99 postage charge from the original cost to calculate the reference price of £56.99. They believed this resulted in a more accurate comparison. Wowcher also provided five invoices showing that customers had purchased individual 16-piece cutlery sets from the supplier for £29.99.
In response to the complainant’s concern that the product he received appeared different to the one pictured in the ad, Wowcher said that their sales team had used an image of the wrong product in error. They said they had taken steps to prevent this from happening in future.
The ASA considered consumers would interpret "£56.99" crossed out alongside a price of £6.99 to mean that £56.99 was a genuine selling price at which the product had previously been marketed and sold, and that they would therefore benefit from a saving.
The product received by the complainant appeared significantly different to the one depicted in the ad, and we noted Wowcher’s assertion that the wrong image had been used in error. We understood that the product advertised was a combination of two 16-piece sets, and Wowcher had calculated the reference price by doubling the price of one set and subtracting the value of the postage they would charge. While we noted that the invoices provided indicated that the 16-piece set received by the complainant had been sold for £29.99 by the supplier, we had not seen any evidence to demonstrate that £56.99 was a genuine price at which the 32-piece set advertised had been marketed and sold. We concluded that the savings claims had not been substantiated and were 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 Wowcher Ltd to ensure that they held sufficient evidence to substantiate savings claims made in their advertising. We also told them to ensure that images used in their advertising accurately depicted the product advertised.