Flooring retailer UK Flooring Direct has seen one of its saving claims adverts deemed as misleading.
The advert, seen on 30 March 2022 on its website, displayed a series of images of different types of flooring that was accompanied by text showing “was” prices compared to “Now only” prices.
Further text relating to each type of flooring made claims concerning savings, stating that consumers could save from 20% to 58% on various products.
Text 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.
Rival carpet retailer Tapi complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), challenging whether the savings claims were misleading and could be substantiated, as well as the use of the countdown timer also being misleading after implying that the promotion was time limited. They understood that the extra discount offer would appear again soon after the countdown ended.
In response, 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.
They confirmed that the “now” price reflected the products’ cost during the period of the sale and 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.
They 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.
UK Flooring Direct added that they believed their promotional campaigns had clear start and end dates, and that they did not think that the countdown clock was misleading. They also said that they did not extend any promotions past the advertised closing date.
Following an investigation, the ASA upheld both rulings and stated: “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, they 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 their website, in the absence of such evidence, we concluded that the claims had not been substantiated, and were therefore misleading.
“While UK Flooring Direct told us that their promotional campaigns had clear start and end dates which were not extended, and did not believe their use of the countdown timer to be misleading, they 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.
“We told UK Flooring Direct Ltd to ensure that future savings claims did not mislead and to ensure they substantiated savings against the usual selling prices of their products. We also told them not to portray promotional offers as being time limited if that was not the case.”