AN advertising email sent out by Euro Car Parts for a Christmas offer has been ruled misleading.
Three people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the email, which included text stating ‘Our Biggest Ever CHRISTMAS SALE STARTS NOW’ and ‘UP TO 69% OFF USE CODE: XMAS’, saying they believed that only one product had the full discount.
In its response, Euro Car Parts Ltd said 10,378 products in the promotion received a discount of 69 per cent or more, totalling 11 per cent of the total promoted stock. It said each product had a ‘Was’ price that was the price that Euro Car Parts regarded as its normal retail price for the product, and which had previously been charged either online or in stores. There was also a ‘Now’ price that was the price available to customers on that day without using the promotional code. It also gave price history data for 10 randomly selected products, saying the individual discount available on each was revealed when the consumer used the ‘XMAS’ discount code at the checkout.
However, upholding the complaints, the ASA said it considered that consumers would understand from the claim ‘UP TO 69% OFF USE CODE: XMAS’ that the promotional code would apply to the selling price of the products at the time the ad appeared and which would otherwise apply if the code wasn’t entered. It added that it would also expect that price to be the usual selling price of the products at the time the ad appeared.
It said that when the discount was worked out against the price available to customers on that day without using the promotional code, the reduction they actually received was significantly lower than the one being advertised. What’s more, the invoices provided for the 10 randomly selected products showed they had last been sold at the ‘Was’ price between 1.5 and five months before the date of the promotion, so the ‘Was’ price didn’t appear to be the usual selling price for the products on the date of the sale, making them likely to be no longer relevant for use as a reference for a savings claim.
The ASA stated: ‘In addition, we noted that the amount of the discount offered was different for each product, but that amount was not given until the code had been entered at the checkout. There was therefore no way for consumers to know how much they would pay for a product featured in the promotion before that stage. We considered that the available discount was material information that should have been included on individual product pages, and that its omission was likely to mislead consumers.
‘Because the claim “UP TO 69% OFF” exaggerated the savings available and furthermore the discount was against outdated prices, we therefore concluded that it was misleading.’
It ordered Euro Car Parts not to run the advert again in that form and to ensure that it didn’t exaggerate savings available when making ‘Up to’ claims and to make sure that consumers were provided with information about the discount available on specific products on the relevant product pages.
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