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Advertiser: Holmestead Saddlery Superstore
Medium: Online - Social Media
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.26
A post on the advertisers’ Facebook page advertising a sale on a brand of saddles stated:
“!!1/2 PRICE STUBBEN SADDLE SALE!!
!! PRICES FROM ONLY: €125!!
MASSIVE CLEAR OUT ON STUBBEN SADDLES ALL ½ PRICE
Available both in store & online
Click link https://www.holmesteadsaddlery.com/?s=Stubben&post_type=product
Limited number available, so as we say, when there gone there GONE! (sic)
Trade ins welcome
Expert saddle fitting in our arena or your yard
1000 saddles available at all budgets
Worldwide traceable shipping
THE WORLDS BEST SADDLERY”
The post featured images of 7 saddles, a sample of which are:
“WAS: €1495 NOW: €750
“WAS: €995 NOW: €495
The complainant considered that the advertising was misleading on two grounds:
The complainant considered that the advertising of a half-price sale was misleading as they did not believe that the saddles had been sold by, or were available to buy from, the advertiser at the “was” price. They said that the advertiser mostly sold second-hand saddles and that the “was” price related to the price of the saddles when purchased as brand new.
The complainant considered that the claim “The World’s best saddlery” was misleading to consumers as they did not consider that the claim could be substantiated.
The advertisers’ stated that they were in business since 1976 and had never had a complaint of false advertising either in the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland. They said that they took great pride in honesty and openness with the public. They said that as they had made the decision to close their store on the 18th of March, they wanted to have a clear out of old stock. They said that Stubben saddles were expensive and were the market leaders, but that styles had changed, and their stock was sitting around too long, so they decided to discount them to half price. They said that the reduced price was half the second-hand price and not half the price of the saddles as new.
In regard to the two example images provided, they said that the saddle marked as “was €995” would cost approximately €2,200 new. They said that they had lots of customers who were often very knowledgeable about brands and prices and it would not be in the interest of their business to try and deceive customers. They said that their half-price sale was very popular and that they had not received any complaints.
In response to a request from ASAI Executive to provide evidence to substantiate the claims made in their advertising, the advertisers forwarded screenshots of the results of an online search for Stubben Saddles. The Executive noted that the images featured were for models of Stubben saddles that did not appear to be featured in the advertisement. The advertisers also forwarded a screen shot from the Stubben website featuring one of the saddles included in the advertisement which the advertisers considered substantiated that the saddles as new were more than double than their advertised “Was” price.
The advertisers advised that the saddles in question were sold long ago and that the advertisement would therefore not reappear and that everything written was entirely truthful.
The advertisers stated that their claim “The Worlds Best Saddlery” was based on the fact that they had won an award. They said that Pariani of Italy had awarded them best International Saddlery, which was a global competition and that they had the plaque to prove it. They also said that they had won The Mountain Horse Best Retailer, and that they had travelled the world extensively in the Saddlery business and totally stood over this comment.
They also said that they had the largest variety of saddles in the World, and that they sold and fitted saddles globally. They said that they were recognised in the industry and were No 1 biggest buyer of many top equestrian brands worldwide, with no equestrian retailer ever challenging their claim.
The advertisers forwarded an image of the plaque they were awarded by Pariani Sellera which stated that they had been awarded “International Retailer of the Year 2015”.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
Issue 1 - Upheld:
The Committee noted that the advertising had referred to a half-price sale and had included “was” and “now” prices for the saddles featured. The Committee noted that the “was” price referred to in the advertising was the price of the saddles as second hand.
The Committee noted the Code requirement that if a marketing communication involved a claim or created an impression that a product was previously offered at a different price, it should be the case that the product was in fact previously offered at the specified price openly and in good faith and for a reasonable period of time (S. 4.26). As evidence had not been provided to show that the products had been previously offered at the stated ‘was’ prices, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.26 of the Code
Issue 2 - Upheld:
The Committee noted that the claim used in the advertisement was “The Worlds Best Saddlery” which they considered was an absolute claim that required substantiation. While the Committee acknowledged that the advertiser had been given an award in 2015 as International Retailer of the Year, the award was given by a manufacturer of saddles as their International Retailer, rather than an award from an independent awarding body for the advertisers’ industry. In the circumstances the Committee did not consider that the claim to be “The Worlds Best Saddlery” had been substantiated and considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.
Action required: The advertising must not reappear in its current form. The Complaints Committee advised the advertisers that when using ‘was’ or similar pricing, they must ensure that they could demonstrate that the products had previously been offered for sale at the ‘was’ price. They also told the advertisers to not use absolute claims without sufficient evidence to support the claim.