The in-store promotional poster which featured a picture of a Sekonda watch offered the following:
“HURRY OFFER ENDS SUNDAY
Was €67.99 NOW €26.99* with any purchase made in store.”
The asterisk was linked to terms and conditions within a footnote in small print which read as follows:
“Offer applicable to all customers that complete any single transaction (excluding the purchase of gift cards, repairs, cleaning products, watch batteries, accessories and warranty) in store between Thursday 3rd of September 2015 and Sunday 6th September 2015. Eligible customers can purchase the Sekonda Ladies watch (item number 2399563) for only €26.99. This reduced item has been offered at the higher price in stores for 28 days or more from 4th August 2015 and 1st September 2015. While stocks last. Item will return to full price for a minimum of 28 days when promotion ends on Sunday 6th September 2015”.
The complainant said that he wished to buy a leather watch strap and a battery and assumed as per the headline offer of the advertisement that this would enable him to purchase the watch as it had been indicated that the watch could be purchased “with any purchase made in store”. He was informed, however, by the sales assistant that, as per the terms and conditions outlined in the small print, he could not purchase the watch with these two items. The complainant said that to qualify for the offer he then had to purchase a further item which he had not set out to do. He considered that he had been misled by the headline offer of the promotion.
The advertisers said that they did not consider their advertising to be misleading and had the complainant read the terms and conditions attached to the offer, he would have seen that the purchase of a watch strap and battery did not meet the requirements to enable him to purchase the watch at the promotional price.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee did not consider that it was acceptable for advertisers to publish offers which suggested to consumers that, on making ‘any purchase’ they would qualify for an offer, while at the same time providing for exclusions in the terms and conditions, even where the headline was linked by way of an asterisk or similar to the qualification. In the circumstances the Committee considered that the advertising was misleading under Sections 2.22, 2.24 and 3.16 of the Code.
The advertising should not be used in the same format again.