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Product: Motoring (Car parts and accessories)
Advertiser: Mick's Garage
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.27, 4.28(a)
The advertising stated the following in relation to the discount code:
“Scratch and SNIFF
SCRATCH THE STICKER AND SMELL THE SCENT*
NOT WORKING? SORRY! HERE’S A CODE FOR 10% OFF EVERYTHING!
USE CODE: THURSDAY”
The complainant received an email from the advertisers regarding a promotion with a ‘10% everything’ discount code. When the voucher code came up as invalid during the purchase, the complainant was advised that the item he wished to purchase was not included in the promotion as the price for it had already been reduced. The complainant considered this to be misleading as the email stated “everything”.
The advertisers said that they had a strong and growing reputation in Ireland for providing great service and value to the general public, and for providing excellent benefits to their opted-in subscriber base. They said they built their offers with great care and placed a lot of emphasis on the integrity and value of the promotion. They said that ensuring an honest, fair deal for their consumers, backed up by great service, was a formula they always adopted.
They said they were upfront with their customers and that in the event that something could not be discounted, they stipulated this on their dedicated ‘Vouchers’ information page, which outlined in detail what was excluded from all promotions.
The advertisers said that the item in question that the complainant wished to buy was already reduced in price. They said that in the event that they already offered the highest value price on products, they were not always able to include them in a promotion that would discount them further. They said they acknowledged the complainant’s dissatisfaction and desire to obtain the product cheaper than its market value, and offered to price match if the complainant could find the item cheaper in Ireland which was not availed of.
The advertisers said that due to the sheer size of their range (13+ million listings), it would not be possible to call out all items that were included in a sale on an advertisement. They said that in this promotion, they had far in excess of (over) 99.9% of their products eligible for the specified 10% discount using the voucher code. They accepted that in this advertisement, although their voucher usage terms and conditions were linked to, they could have directly drawn more attention to their exclusions to make this clearer for subscribers. They said they did not believe that the public were misled, and their customers enjoyed a strong discount or excellent pricing.
In summary, they sincerely apologised that the complainant felt that this advertisement was misleading and that this was never their aim. They said that in their 15 years of operation, they have received very little negative feedback on their offers such as this. They apologised for any inconvenience they have caused, and requested that the committee considered the examples of very similar direct marketing campaigns that provided more clarity, which were conducted both before and after this complaint was submitted. They said they were committed to ensuring their offers were as clear as possible for their customers, today and in the future.
The ASAI Executive reminded the advertisers that they could not refer to ‘everything’ in the headline offer of the marketing communication where exclusions apply, even if those exclusions were referenced in the small print or Terms and Conditions.
In their response, the advertisers agreed with the ASAI Executive and that this was their understanding also. They said that they were not ambiguous about this currently and that they actually said “X% off” and called out their exclusions.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertising. They noted the advertisers’ comments in relation to the item that was already reduced in price.
The Committee considered that it was not acceptable for advertisements to include offers which suggest that all stock is subject to a particular reduction or on sale while providing for exclusions in the small print, even where the headline is linked by way of an asterisk or similar to the qualification.
The Committee noted that the advertisement had used the word ‘Everything’, therefore, the impression created by the advertising was that all stock was included in the promotion. In view of this, the Committee concluded that the advertising was in breach of Code sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.28(a).
The advertising must not reappear in its current form. Absolute language such as ‘Everything’ must not be used when exclusions apply.