Complaints upheld findings by the ITC and the ASA.
Who: Comet and TV Travel Shop
When: Autumn 1999
Where: UK: ASA and ITC
Which is the odd one out? Claim 1 (TV Travel Shop)"We will not be beaten on price," with a promise to refund double the difference if a lower price is found, Claim 2"We guarantee that this is the lowest price in town" (Comet) with a promise to refund the difference plus 10% if a lower price is found and Claim 3 (Comet)"Always the lowest price" with a promise to match any lower price found. Answer, none of them. All were the subject of "Complaint upheld" findings by the ITC in the case of Claims 1 and 2 and the ASA in the case of Claim3.
The TV Travel Shop commercial referred to a text page for full details of the price pledge. This clearly narrowed its applicability to deals booked though certain travel agents, but the absence of any suggestion in the commercial that there was any such limitation was held to render it misleading.
What did for Claim 2 was competitor Dixons' evidence of them beating Comet prices, which, despite the "difference plus 10% refund" pledge, rendered misleading the absolute, unequivocal "lowest price" guarantee which was the key message of the campaign.
In the case of Claim3 the problem was the discrepancy between the main "lowest price" claim (i.e. lower than anybody else) and the pledge to only match, not undercut, any lower price found.
Why this matters:
To avoid Code problems or even worse, a criminal conviction under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 for giving a "misleading price indication," great care should be taken with price pledges/guarantees. It is not just a question of ensuring that what is happening on the ground accords with the claim. There are also, as these cases underline, the related issues of determining exactly what the claim is eg is it a superlative claim such as "we are cheaper than everybody else" or a parity claim such as "we cannot be beaten on price" and is any refund or price-match claim absolutely consistent with the guarantee. If not, your competitors will be more than happy to draw the matter to the authorities' attention!
Don't forget also the new rules on price marking, coming our way courtesy of an EU Directive by March 2000. Watch this website for further reports.