A TV ad for Zestify Media, seen on 5 January 2019, showed an epilator with a crossed out 'was' price of £39.99 and a 'now' price of £19.99. Alongside that was a pink circle that featured the claim "SAVE 50%".
The complainant, who believed that the epilator had not been sold for £39.99, challenged whether the 'was' price was misleading.
Zestify Media Ltd said that the Wellneo Tweeze Premium was priced online at £39.99 from 18 July 2018 until 30 September 2018. The product was then sold, priced at £19.99 from 1 October 2018.
Clearcast said they endorsed Zestify’s response and provided a copy of the assurance they had received from Zestify that stated the product was priced at £39.99 in the aforementioned months. They also said Zestify had confirmed were no recorded unit sales at the higher price.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim “£19.99 … SAVE 50%” to represent a genuine saving of 50% against the usual selling price of £39.99 at the time the ad appeared.
The product had been offered for sale at the ‘was’ price of £39.99 for 74 days – during which time we noted that no units were sold at that price – and was last offered at £39.99, 66 days before the ad was seen by the complainant. Throughout those subsequent 66 days, the product was priced at £19.99.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s (CTSI) Guidance for Traders on Pricing Practices stated that a reference price was less likely to comply if “the price comparison [was] made for a materially longer period than the higher price was offered”. It also stated that a relevant factor to consider when determining whether a reference price was misleading was whether significant sales were made at the higher price. We noted that no units had been sold at the higher price of £39.99.
Because no units had been sold at the ‘was’ price and because the product had been on sale at the lower promotional price for a materially longer period of time than the ‘was’ price, we concluded that “SAVE 50%” did not represent a genuine saving against the usual selling price of the product, and the ad was therefore misleading.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is 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 3.18 3.18 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product or service depicted in the advertisement. (Prices).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Zestify Media Ltd to ensure future savings claims represented genuine savings for consumers.