The advertisers’ website referred to the following:
“Ex Display - Hoover Integrated Dishwasher
Energy Rating AAA…
Annual Energy Consumption (in kWh/a) 304…
Wash Performance A…
Features 15 place settings, AAA Rating…
Energy consumption (in kWh) 1.1…”
The complainant purchased the dishwasher on the basis that it had been advertised as having an A+++ energy rating. When it was unpacked the product itself clearly stated that it had an A+ rating. The complainant considered that she had been misled by the advertising.
The advertisers said that their website had not stated that the Hoover Candy Dishwasher had an A+++ rating it had stated that it had an “AAA” energy rating. They said on receipt of the complaint they reviewed the manufacturer’s specifications for the product and noted that they had specified that the product was ‘AAA’ rated in terms of energy, wash and drying performance. They said this was the information which they had directly incorporated on to their website when advertising the product.
The advertisers said that it was their understanding that an A+++ energy rating was not the same as an AAA energy rating. With dishwashers they said the AAA rating was established under an EU Directive as an energy consumption labelling scheme and each ‘A’ referred specifically to energy efficiency class, wash efficiency class, and drying efficiency class. The dishwasher in this case had an A-rating for each of the three energy efficiency classes, and accordingly it was true to say in that sense that it was AAA-rated.
The advertisers said that in 2010, in order to keep up with advances in energy efficiency, A+, A++ and A+++ grades were introduced for various products including dishwashers. They said, however, that neither before nor after 2010 had there been an overall energy rating of AAA. Prior to 2010 the overall energy ratings for dishwashers had been listed simply as A, B. C, D, E, F and G. After 2010 they said the new system was based on an energy efficiency index (EEI), which in turn was based on the annual power usage, based on stand-by power consumption and 280 cleaning cycles, relative to the standard power usage for the particular type of dishwasher. For a 12 place setting dishwasher, an EEI of 100 corresponded to 462 kWh per year.
The advertisers provided the following illustration to demonstrate the pre-and post-2010 systems:
Dishwashers (12 place settings, in kWh; pre-2010)
A <1.06 ; B <1.25 ; C <1.45 ; D <1.65 ; E <1.85 ; F <2.05 ; G >2.05
Dishwashers (as EEI; after 2010)
A+++ <50 ; A++ <56 ; A+ <63 ; A <71 ; B <80 ; C <90 ; D >90
The advertisers said that while they had not positively stated that the dishwasher in question had an A+++ rating, they acknowledge that their reference to the AAA rating may have been unhelpful. They considered, however, that at this point in time most consumers would be familiar with the new energy ratings which were visibly displayed on products, both pictorially and with colour coding, these ratings never contained more than one letter. Hence, they considered that an energy rating of ‘AAA’ had limited potential to confuse consumers given that the dishwasher had been advertised with an energy consumption in kWh as 1.1 with an annual energy consumption in kWh/a as 304. This would have allowed the complainant to make an informed purchase choice and to compare the energy consumption details of this particular dishwasher against other dishwasher products. The advertisers also said that in comparing products the complainant would have seen that dishwashers with an A+++ rating were far more expensive than the dishwasher advertised on their website.
The advertisers said that they took their responsibilities very seriously in the preparation of their marketing communications and to address the complainant’s issues they had removed the reference to ‘AAA’ from all appliances advertised and now had an A, A+, A++ and A+++ rating where relevant to each specific appliance advertised on their website.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee reminded the advertisers that the onus was on them to ensure that their advertising was in conformity with the Code and that this onus did not lie with the manufacturer of the product. They also reminded them that the onus should not be on the Consumer to work out the calculations (energy wise) of what they were buying. This should be displayed prominently in the marketing communication to enable consumers to make an informed choice. The Committee concluded that if the product had an A+ rating that this is what should have been displayed in the advertising and not ‘AAA’ as indicated. They considered the advertising to be in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4 and 4.9 of the Code.
As the advertising had already been amended no further action was required in this case.