Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Wickes Building Supplies Ltd (Wickes)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 5 June 2019
Law stated as at: 26 June 2019
The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that Wickes misled shoppers with its kitchen sale in August and September 2018, and banned the advert.
Wickes advertised a kitchen starting at £2,086.00, which included a multi-buy discount of 50% off for customers who bought five or more units.
The ASA noted that Wickes had increased the price of all individual units on the day of the promotion, in one example raising the cost of a unit from £159 to £318, which cancelled out the saving.
The ASA also stated that the saving Wickes claimed to offer based on the showroom list price of a single unit was not genuine, since the price of a single unit was not valid in this context as a reference for a saving on a full kitchen.
Wickes claimed that the offer was a multi-buy promotion rather than a discount on the previous selling price. However, the ASA banned the advert and told Wickes not to base price claims on the cost of an individual unit where the advert was clearly promoting full kitchens (especially when consumers were unlikely to purchase a single unit).
Why this matters:
Trading Standards Guidance dictates that the quoted saving must be genuine, and a way of determining whether it is genuine is if the retailer has previously sold a significant number of units at the pre-discount price. In this situation, Wickes increased the price on the same day as announcing the discount, and therefore had not sold a significant number of units at the pre-discount price.
In addition, the saving was on a full kitchen rather than individual units, so the fact that Wickes presented the offer as a saving on single unit was not genuine.
When offering discounts, businesses must carefully consider whether a saving against another price is genuine, taking into account the original price, how many items have been sold at that original price, and whether it is genuine to present the offer as a discount on an individual item or collectively.