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ASA upholds Tapi complaint over UK Flooring Direct ad

UKFDColoradoThe Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint made by Tapi over how UK Flooring Direct marketed a promotion. 

The etailer showed various types of flooring alongside was and now prices – highlighting reductions of between 20% to 58%. At the top of the homepage stated ‘Up to 60% off, plus … Extra 10% off … Use code: APR-10 … Offer ends 11th April’ and was accompanied by a countdown timer showing the apparent time left in the promotion.

Tapi challenged that savings claims were misleading and could be substantiated; and the use of the countdown timer misleadingly implied that the promotion was time limited, because they understood that the extra discount offer would appear again soon after the countdown ended.

UK Flooring Direct said that the was price seen in the ad was the price at which they had previously advertised the relevant products for sale, for a period of 30 days. It confirmed that the now price reflected the products’ cost during the period of the sale. It provided a document which showed a calendar of rolling promotions covering a 12-month period, but which did not contain a full pricing history for the products identified in the complaint. It also told the ASA that they were in the process of making changes to their advertising, which would remove references to all was prices from their website by the beginning of August 2022.

It also said it believed the promotional campaigns had clear start and end dates, and that it did not think that the countdown clock was misleading. It also told the ASA that it did not extend any promotions past the advertised closing date.

The ASA considered that consumers would understand the various savings claims highlighted in the complaint to mean that they would be able to make a genuine saving of, respectively, 20%, 49%, 50%, 57%, 58% and 58%, against the usual selling prices of the individual products at the time the ad appeared. 

‘We therefore expected to see evidence to demonstrate that the “was” prices represented the usual selling prices of the products,’ says the ASA ruling. We asked UK Flooring Direct to provide us with a full pricing history for each identified product, including the number of units sold at each price. However, it did not provide any pricing history, or any other evidence to demonstrate the “was” prices were genuinely the usual selling prices of the products in question.

‘While we welcomed UK Flooring Directs proposal to remove the “was” pricing comparisons from the website, in the absence of such evidence, we concluded that the claims had not been substantiated, and were therefore misleading.

‘We considered that consumers would understand that the countdown timer would relate to a specific time limitation in which the code offering a further 10% discount against the usual selling price was available, and that once it reached its conclusion, the offer would no longer be available. We therefore expected to see evidence that the offer had ended once the timer reached zero, and that the extra 10% (or similar) discount was not offered on such a consistent basis that it undermined the claimed saving.

While UK Flooring Direct told us that the promotional campaigns had clear start and end dates which were not extended, and did not believe the use of the countdown timer to be misleading, it did not provide us with any further evidence to show that this was the case. In the absence of any such evidence, we concluded that the use of the timer was misleading.

‘The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told UK Flooring Direct to ensure that future savings claims did not mislead and to ensure it substantiated savings against the usual selling prices of products. We also told it not to portray promotional offers as being time limited if that was not the case.’