The advertisement featuring a male voiceover referred to the following:
“Mercedes-Benz have some really good news for 2017!
As a result of Brexit, we have decided to reduce all our new car retail prices by 10%.
This unique opportunity is for a limited period only, so make sure to speak today to your local authorised Mercedes-Benz dealership and discover how to upgrade from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
You said you would drive a Mercedes-Benz one day.
One day is now”.
The complainant said he wished to order a new E350 Hybrid but was informed that this car was not covered by the 10% discount offer as the car would have to be ordered. He was informed that the offer was only applicable to cars which were in stock. The complainant said that the advertising was misleading because not ‘all’ cars had qualified for the discount, as indicated in the advertising.
The advertisers said their 10% price reduction was a genuine offer on all passenger models in the Mercedes-Benz range for a limited time period. They said many of their customers had availed of the offer.
The advertisers said that ‘a limited time period’ meant that any individual order had to be available for registration in Ireland before the closing date of the offer which was 28th February 2017. They said the offer only applied to cars that could be registered by that date.
In providing further comments, the advertiser said that their advertisement was designed to deliver a very simple and clear message, offering their customers a real value proposition and this was their reason for offering a 10% price discount. They said that the offer applied to their entire range so there was no confusion and they had also clearly advised that the offer was for a limited period and that anyone who was interested should contact their authorised dealer.
They advised that the order lead in time was from three to six months depending on the model and where it was produced. Due to the success of the campaign, for certain models ordered in January, there were no production slots available until after their offer had finished.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Committee noted that the offer had been advertised as “for a limited time only” but that the advertiser omitted additional details covering the order and registration dates, which the Committe considered were fundamental factors related to the promotion.
The Committee also noted the advertisement had stated that the offer applied to ‘all new car retail prices’ and that it applied to those cars registered by 28th February. Given that the order lead in time was between three and six months, they considered that as the closing date approached, the offer would not be available for ‘all’ new cars ordered before that date.
In the circumstances, they considered that the advertisement had the potential to mislead consumers. The Committee considered that the advertising was therefore in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, and 4.9 of the Code.
ACTION REQUIRED: The advertisement should not run again in its current format. The use of absolute claims such as “all” should not be used, unless appropriately qualified, where limiting factors restricted their availability.