Supermarket chain Lidl has been ruled to mislead customers on a number of products on sale during last year’s Black Friday promotion including a mattress.
According to a complaint made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) by rival Aldi, it was alleged that the quoted recommended retail prices (RRPs) differed significantly from the prices at which the items were generally sold, and challenged whether the RRP claims could be substantiated and were misleading.
The advert of concern was a leaflet Lidl had placed in a national newspaper promoting its Black Friday sale, seen on 25 November 2021. This featured a number of RRP claims including an “Emma Original Mattress (single)” with a price of £199.99 and an RRP of £499 and an “Emma Original Mattress (double)” with a price of £329 and an RRP of £799.
In response, Lidl said the prices in the leaflet were the prices at which the products were generally sold. They believed consumers generally understood the meaning of RRPs and explained that they had used them to avoid suggesting that the products had previously been sold by Lidl at the higher price.
Prior to publishing their Black Friday leaflet, the prices were validated by their buying team to ensure that they were genuine and reflected the price that those specific products (brand, model) were generally sold in the marketplace. In some cases, that included reference to manufacturers’ own websites (including Emma); to online retailers such as Amazon and Littlewoods; and to retailers with both online and high-street presence.
They provided screenshots from manufacturers’ and other retailers’ websites showing prices for the advertised products around the time the ad appeared.
Following an investigation by the ASA, it upheld the claims, considering that consumers would understand the RRP claims in the ads to be the price recommended by the manufacturer and at which retailers generally sold the goods across the market.
With regards to the Emma Mattress ads, despite Lidl providing screenshots of the products being sold at RRP, this did not constitute evidence for establishing the price at which the products were generally sold. The examples were deemed as insufficient to demonstrate that the products were generally sold at the RRPs claimed in the ads.
The ASA ruled: “The ads must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Lidl Great Britain Ltd to ensure that that future references to RRPs reflected the price at which the products concerned were generally sold. We also told them to ensure that they held adequate evidence to substantiate their savings claims.”