Who: Homebase and The Advertising Standards Authority
Where: England and Wales
When: 29 July 2015
Law stated as at: 8 August 2015
A complaint was received by the ASA that Homebase was misleading consumers by advertising the price of a lawn mower as 15% reduction. The lawn mower was being sold at a promotional price of £118.99, which Homebase claimed was 15% less than the “normal” price of £139.99.
The complainant, however, had seen the lawn mower advertised at £111.99 in the weeks leading up to the promotion, and believed that the price of the lawn mower had only increased to £139.99 for two days before the 15% off promotion. The ASA were asked to investigate whether this was misleading, as £139.99 could not in these circumstances be considered the “normal” price of the product.
Homebase defended their claim by stating that the lawn mower had been introduced at the price of £139.99, and that while the product had been sold at £111.99 for over a month, this was a promotion that had ended before the 15% reduction offer. Homebase argued that the increase to the “normal price” of £139.99 was not done intentionally before the 15% offer kicked in; the timing was the result of the planned promotional period ending.
The ASA disagreed, however, deciding that consumers seeing the 15% off “normal price £139.99” ad, would assume that the lawn mower would usually be sold by Homebase at £139.99. The ASA considered this not to be the case, as the product had been available at the discounted price of £111.99 for longer than its supposed “normal price”. Homebase had provided sales data to evidence that some of the lawn mowers had been sold at £139.99, but it was unclear how many units were sold at this price, therefore Homebase had failed to substantiate the “normal price” claim.
Why this matters:
The ASA decided that the ad was misleading and should not appear again in its current form. Advertisers looking to run a price promotion should ensure that when using the “normal price” as a reference point for a reduction, this price should be genuinely the price at which is normally sold. Advertisers should also ensure that they hold adequate evidence to demonstrate that the product is normally sold at this price. It is insufficient to point out that the “normal” price represents the price at which the product was originally sold.