ASA rules double glazing ads with massive discounts are just plain wrong
It’s a bit like the perennial question of whether the tree falling over alone in the woods makes a noise-- do the too-good-to-be-true sales offered by sofa retailers and double-glazing salesmen ever end? Well now the ASA has ruled against one such company to prevent them from advertising heavily discounted prices which are actually just the normal prices.
You’ve probably seem the Safestyle UK television adverts (and then wished you could scrub your ears and eyeballs), which normally involve a lot of screaming and unbelievable offers of free upstairs windows, or free windows at the front or BOGOF or something else that offers a prima facie discount of around 50% from the ‘normal’ price of their windows. The ASA, however, were responding to a complaint over advertisements offering “55% off” as a promotion. The complaint suggested, heaven forbid, that the 55% off was not, in fact, an offer, and the 55% off prices were available all the time, meaning that this constituted false advertising.
In response, HPAS (trading as Safestyle UK) affirmed that during the previous six months there had been 86 offer days, with a further 86 non-offer days. They said given the schedule, and similarly to other retailers that offered periodic sales, it was possible, if not likely, that consumers would see a number of different promotional Safestyle ads before either responding or making a purchase.
As part of the investigation, as is often the case, the ASA also spoke to Clearcast, to see what checks they had undertaken before allowing the ad to run.
Clearcast said they had also been suspicious of the 55% off claims taken care to discuss what was needed to support the pricing claims as “the prices must represent genuine discounts”. They had received ‘evidence’ from Safestyle in the form of a signed letter that affirmed the above and stated that “the products had been sold without discount for at least the previous 93 days at the time of clearance”, which is already not quite the same as the 86 days they claimed to the ASA. Safestyle, however, also informed Clearcast that because all items were made to measure, they “did not have price lists as such but that any full prices would be discounted by 55%.” Clearcast also trusted Safestyle as far as they could throw them, so further requested, and received, some kind of legal confirmation “that the ad was accurate and not misleading.”
Nevertheless, the ASA did their own digging and found that, far from the 86 or 93 days claimed by Safestyle, from the beginning of 2015 until the date of the complaint in early March, “there had been only one three-day period, in January, at which no promotional price was offered against Safestyle's standard prices.” The ASA did concede that there was a longer non-promotional at the end of 2014, amounting to a massive 35 days, but during that preceding three month period, the products had been offered at either 55% off or on a buy-one-get-one free promotion for the majority of the time.
As a result, the ASA concluded that the ‘discounted’ price, and not the non-promotional price was the normal selling price and that therefore any offers claiming to offer 55% off were misleading and must not be used again. Consumers 1, dodgy double glazing salesmen 0