Radio advertising for Harvey Norman featuring a male voiceover referred to the following:
“The wait is over, the shopping event of the year is here. Get Black Friday discounts today. Like the LG 43" UHDTV for just €389, saving you €340, or get the NutriBullet blender for just €69 saving you €30, and at Harvey Norman, we've matched all competitors' Black Friday prices, so no need to shop around. Don't wait until the Black Friday, now is the time to buy in store or online.
Harvey Norman Black Friday sale.”
The first complainant said that a video doorbell which was available to buy for €179.99 in one retail outlet was priced at €199 in Harvey Norman. The complainant considered the advertising to be misleading.
The complainant said that he wished to purchase a Wifi powerline extender which was priced at €59.99 in Harvey Norman. While in the Harvey Norman store he checked an online retailer’s website and the same item was priced at €49.99. He brought the difference in price to the attention of the sales assistant in the Harvey Norman store and he agreed to sell the item to the complainant for €49.99. The complainant then asked if the remaining items on the shelf would be priced accordingly and was advised that this would not be the case.
The complainant considered the advertising to be misleading as in his opinion there was every need to shop around as the advertisers only matched their competitors’ prices when a difference in cost was brought to their attention.
The advertisers said that they had ongoing price matches with their competitors’ and once
it became apparent that items were on sale for cheaper in their competitors’ stores their in-store ticketing was changed immediately. This change would also be made to the price on their website by the following day. The advertisers said that once a customer found an item for cheaper from one of their competitors’ they would indeed match that price. They said the information provided on their website in relation to price matching had indicated that “At Harvey Norman we monitor pricing everyday on a huge range of products. We will Match or BEAT any genuine competitor’s advertised price on the date you purchase or within 7 days of the purchase.”
The advertisers said that it would be unrealistic to expect that prices were changed instantly across all their stores once an item came to their attention which was available at a cheaper price from a competitor. They said the item would have to be reviewed and then there were processes and procedures to be followed to ensure that changes were effected correctly. They said there would always be timing differences and customers would have different expectations and interpretations.
The advertisers said that during the period of their advertising for their Black Friday Sale they had actively matched the prices of thousands of products. They forwarded a list of price matches on a confidential basis which had been conducted by them.
The advertisers pointed out that the customer who had made a purchase in this case had not been disenfranchised in any way and had received the best price available.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaints and the advertisers’ response. The Committee considered that the claim “… we've matched all competitors' Black Friday prices, so no need to shop around” was intended to reassure potential customers that they would not find cheaper products elsewhere.
As evidence had not been submitted to show that in real time, cheaper competitor prices were matched, the Committee considered that the claim ‘no need to shop around’ was likely to mislead.
The Committee considered the advertisement to be in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.
The advertisement should not be used in the same format again.