ASA rules against Wickes on advert where it put prices up on day of promotion

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned a multi-buy discount advertisement run by DIY chain Wickes in August last year, ruling it was misleading and pointing out that it had significantly increased prices on the day of the promotion.

This follows the furore created by consumer champion Which? over such misleading advertisements. Which? was one of six complainants to bring this case before the ASA.

Which? stated at the time that misleading discount claims were rushing consumers into the purchase of a new kitchen or bathroom.

In this case, the advert in question stated: “Price from: £2,086.00 Price shown includes multi-buy discount (Price based on 8 unit example)”. Text in a box underneath stated: “Multi-Buy 50% off Showroom Kitchen Units when you buy 5+.”

Another page was titled “Kitchens” with an image of a full kitchen and then detailed 50% off when you buy five-plus units.

The ASA upheld the complaints and ruled that although the ads did refer to a “multi-buy”, all of the photographs showed full kitchens as opposed to individual units and that “in that context, consumers would understand that they would be able to make a genuine saving against the price they would otherwise have paid for a full kitchen”.

The ASA also pointed out that Wickes “significantly increased the price of individual units on the day of the promotion… effectively cancelling out any saving”.

It detailed a 300mm High Base Line Unit for the Heritage Bone range listed at £159 from February 22 to August 15, 2018, and increased to £318 on the day of the promotion.

The ASA pointed out in its ruling that data provided to them by Wickes showed that it had “very few sales comprising four or fewer units, either before or after the multi-buy offer was introduced”. The ASA therefore considered that the price of a single unit was not valid in this context as a reference for a saving on a full kitchen.

The ASA concluded: “Although Wickes said the 50% discount was not intended as a discount against a previous selling price, we noted that a unit bought as part of the 50% off multi-buy offer cost the same as it had before the promotion began, and consumers would therefore not make a saving against what they would otherwise have paid for a full kitchen before the multi-buy offer was introduced. We considered that the claimed saving was also not genuine for that reason.

“We therefore concluded that the claimed saving was misleading.”

Wickes defended itself by saying it believed it was made clear throughout the ads that the ‘50% off’ offer was a multi-buy promotion. It said the kitchens landing page was clearly headed ‘Multi-Buy’, with that being the first piece of information appearing on the page, directly above the discount claim.

Wickes added: “Both pages made multiple further references to the ‘multi-buy’ nature of the offer, both in the body copy and in further qualifying language at the bottom of each page. By contrast, there was nothing on either page which the average consumer could take to imply that the multi-buy offer was, in fact, a time limited sale, in which prices were compared to a previous selling price for the entire kitchen shown in the ad, such as: slashed out pricing; a ‘was’/‘now’ comparison; a reference to a discount which was not introduced as a multi-buy discount; or reliance on small print to correct a potentially inaccurate reading of the discount claim.”

The ASA website also shows that Wickes successfully defended another complaint against one of its adverts in May last year.

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