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Product: Clothing / Footwear
Advertiser: Qwertee Ltd
Medium: Social Media (Company's Own Page)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.27, 4.28(a), 4.28(b), 5.4, 5.5, 5.12
An advertisement on the company’s Facebook page stated the following:
“HURRY!! ALL TEES REDUCED TO JUST £8 for 24 HOURS ONLY!! Choose from 300+ AMAZING Designs…while stocks last!!”
Beneath was a picture of four t-shirts on hangers with the following:
“Up to 75% OFF Plus FREE SHIPPING
Up to 75% OFF for 24 Hrs!!
Click Shop Now To Order!
The complainant considered the ‘up to 75% off’ claim to be misleading and that it could not be substantiated as they could not locate any products with a 75% discount. They said that they sourced two products that were reduced from £13 to £4, a 69% discount.
The advertisers said that there were three different tee shirt designs on sale which were reduced from their original prices by 75% - Vivi, Red Sunset and Sora Ink, with a total of 114 of these tee shirt designs available for sale on their website, out of a total stock of approximately 180,000 tee shirts, and at a price which was 75% less than their original price. In terms of their stock levels, they advised that they had sold approximately 285 separate designs during the promotion in question. They said that the original, higher price was in place for more than 24 hours before the sale, complying with Section 4.26 of the Code (i.e. that the tee shirts were on sale at a higher price for a reasonable period of time before they were discounted, i.e. for only so long as the product had been at the elevated previous price).
For all three tee shirt designs, the advertisers provided customer order receipts which showed the price of each tee shirt before the sale and during the sale, confirming the price reduction of 75%.
The advertisers said that every tee shirt was substantially reduced on the date of the advertisement by a minimum of 38%, with many being reduced by 50%. They said they monitored their stock levels during the period of the advertisement to ensure that there was always one tee shirt design available at a 75% reduction.
They said a flash sale was a relatively benign and common marketing message and one that consumers were well used to (i.e., the maximum discount is 75% but the majority of products will not be reduced by 75%). They said that there was no exaggeration of the availability of tee shirts available at 75% off and that the advertisement did not say “All stock at 75% off” or “Nearly all stock at 75% off” or such an equivalent statement, but rather that it simply stated that the maximum discount was 75%.
They said the exact level of discount was also influenced by the preferred shopping currency chosen by the customer, who had the option to toggle between different currencies at the top right-hand side of the website. They said that while the GBP currency would show a reduction of £13 to £4 (69%), in the euro currency the reduction for the same product would be €16 to €4 (75%). They said that therefore, customers who had presumably been shopping from the UK using GBP could have switched to euro to avail of a 75% discount. They said that in this regard, however, they would ensure that future advertisements made any differential treatment between their three available currencies (£/€/US$) clearer.
They said they were of the view that the promotion was equitable as it was freely available for all customers and did not discriminate in any way. They said that customers that purchased full-price tee shirts were not favoured over customers that purchased a discounted tee shirt (e.g. all orders for discounted tee shirts purchased during the promotion were processed and dispatched as and when they were received by them). They said that therefore, the promotion was conducted equitably, promptly and efficiently.
They said they always tried to deal fairly and honourably with their customers. Further, they said the advertisement was very clear that tee shirts were on sale for up to 75% off while stocks last. They said there was nothing unfair or dishonourable about this kind of promotion, which was a very common marketing technique. In their view, they said the average consumer would have readily understood that while the maximum discount available was 75%, this discount did not apply to all tee shirts and would have also been subject to the availability of stock.
The advertisers said that, in their view, the advertisement would not have misled consumers, who were very familiar with this kind of reduced price offer promotion. They said consumers understood that a discount of “up to” 75% did not mean that this discount applied to all, or even most, of the available stock. They said that, as the evidence supplied showed, customers did buy tee shirts for 75% off and that, therefore, they saw no reason why the presentation of the advertisement would mislead consumers.
They said they made efforts to avoid disappointing customers by qualifying the terms of the advertisement (up to 75% off… while stocks last) and by monitoring stock levels during the promotion. They said that, in their view, the advertisement was clear that the sale would apply “while stocks last” and that made it clear that there was not unlimited stock. They said the average consumer would not assume that the price of every product on the website would be discounted by 75% (and many customers bought tee shirts at a discount of less than 75%) or that stocks for the discounted products would be unlimited, particularly as the Advertisement stated “while stocks last”.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Committee noted that the pricing in the advertising was in UK sterling and considered therefore that it had been addressed to UK customers. They considered therefore that consumers purchasing the relevant products should have been able to avail of a 75% discount in sterling. The Committee also noted that the number of products that the maximum discount applied was 1.05% of tee shirt designs and 0.06% of all tee shirts available.
While the Committee noted that the claim was an ‘up to’ claim, indicating that there was a limited number at the maximum discount price, they considered that such a low level of availability of the product designs/products was likely to mislead.
In the circumstances, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Code Sections 4.1, 4.4, 5.4, 5.5 and 5.12.
The advertisement should not appear in the current form again.