An SMS from Linders Renault stated:
“Linders Renault Finglas exclusive offer. €2,000 trade in boost against any new 141 Renault car. Offer ends 15th March 2014.”
The complainant received the SMS and, as he had recently received a trade in offer of €3,500 for his car, he expected to receive an extra €2,000 on his trade in as stated in the offer. When he visited the garage he was advised that if he wanted to avail of the offer they would reduce his original trade in offer by €2,000 to €1,500 and apply the promotional €2,000 boost it would bring him back to the original offer of €3,500 trade in. The complainant considered that the offer was misleading.
The advertisers’ stated that the promotion was facilitated on their behalf by Renault Ireland and was a €2,000 discount off a new car purchased within the offer period. They stated that the discount was executed through over-valuing the trade in presented by the customer. They stated that it was common practice throughout the motor industry in Ireland that a discount on a new vehicle is manifested in the value offered for the customer’s trade in vehicle.
They stated that the offer was made in good faith and was honoured in all cases in line with the terms and conditions and that the terms had been made clear to each potential customer. They outlined the terms of the offer as follows:
“This offer is subject to the purchase of a new or 141 Renault vehicle. It is limited to one per individual and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or to better an offer previously agreed. The text must be shown prior to any discussions or agreement concerning vehicle purchase and cannot be used retrospectively.”
They advised that the quotation the complainant received had been agreed prior to the SMS being sent out and they were therefore unable to better that deal under the terms of the offer. They stated that the offer was genuine and they had not conducted in any wrong-doing nor had any misrepresentation taken place. In regards to the trade in value the complainant was quoted, they stated that this was a very fair deal. They noted that often in the purchase of motor vehicles, consumers are exposed to promotions that run following the date of their purchase as it was quite common for retailers to run different promotions from month to month.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee acknowledged that it was acceptable that retailers could restrict offers to new business. In this case, however, the Committee noted that the offer had been described as a ‘trade in boost’ and considered, therefore, that it was not unreasonable for consumers to expect an extra €2,000 on the value of their trade in vehicle. As the combined value of the trade in boost and the reduced trade in figure offered to the complainant was the same that had been offered to him before the promotion, the Committee considered that the SMS advertising had not provided the complainant with any additional benefit and was therefore misleading and in breach of Section 2.24 of the Code.
The advertisement must not reappear in its current form.