Prices for Carefree baths started at £1,499 in a winter offer, so what could possibly be wrong with its ad headline ‘Winter offer from £1,499’? We report on how the context of a claim can make all the difference to the regulatory verdict at
Who: Carefree Bathing Limited
Where: The Advertising Standards Authority
When: July 2004
The Advertising Standards Authority dealt with a complaint in respect of a magazine advertisement for baths. This was headed "Winter offer from £1,499." The text stated "direct from factory, no sales discounts, realistic prices, no gimmicks… professionally installed in a day ready for use in 24 hours". A freephone telephone number was given, but when the complainant dialled it and asked for a quote, he was told that the price of a fully installed bath would be £4,569. He complained to the ASA that the "…from £1,499" claim in the headline of the ad was misleading.
In its submission to the ASA, Carefree argued that there was no indication in the ad that the £1,499 price included installation or any of the other charges that they made including those for delivery, extra features such as a pump, thermostatic controls, equalising valves and fitting parts.
The ASA considered that the presentation of the ad, especially the claims "professionally installed in a day" and "ready for use in 24 hours" misleadingly implied that by the paying the quoted "from" price consumers could obtain a fully fitted and functioning bath for the price stated in the headline. The complaint was upheld and the advertiser was advised to seek advice from the CAP copy advice team for help with any amended version of the ad.
Why this matters:
This finding underlines that in assessing a price claim, the ASA will not look at the claim in isolation, but will look at it in the context of the whole marketing communication.
The ASA also underlines here that if products are offered at prices starting from a particular figure, that figure must be realistic and apply, at least at entry level, to what is being advertised in the communication.