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ASA warns Laura Ashley over ‘misleading advertising’

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has warned Laura Ashley that its “misleading” advertising emails which offered specific savings “must not appear again in their current form” unless it was able to prove the claims.

The ASA also said the retailer must “ensure that their future advertising did not make savings claims” unless it could substantiate them “against the usual selling price of the products”.

A complainant said that they felt savings claims in the ads were “misleading”, the ads featured promotional language such as “up to 50% off* home”, “up to 70% off* fashion” and “40% off* everything”.

The complainant also said some adverts which claimed the promotion’s closing date had been extended, led them to believe it had been extended until midnight when Code of Advertising Practice (CAP) stated that closing dates “must not be changed unless unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the promoter make it necessary”.

Laura Ashley said that the 40% off everything’ event was extended by one day place due to difficulties on its website. The ASA said the clothes retailer provided a copy of dialogue with its technical team, who understood that customers had experienced problems with the checkout page meaning they were not able to pay.

The company gave the ASA pricing information history of 16 products from the sales in question. Laura Ashley added that 10% of their products in the “UP TO 50% OFF* HOME” and “UP TO 70% OFF* FASHION + FURTHER REDUCTIONS” sales events were given the discount quoted.

The ASA considered that consumers would understand that a significant proportion of items included in the sales would be discounted by both 50% and 70% respectively. It also considered that consumers would understand that all products within the ‘Home’ range would be included in the “up to 50% off*” sale and all products within the “fashion” range would be included in the “up to 70% off*” sale.

It considered that they would understand from those claims and the other discounted claims, such as “40% off* everything”, that by purchasing an item with the discount they would be making a genuine saving against the usual selling price of the product within that category at the time the ads appeared.

The ASA ruled that the ads “must not appear again in their current form”. It told Laura Ashley to “ensure that their future advertising did not make savings claims unless they were able to substantiate those claims against the usual selling price of the products”. The advertising regulator also told them to ensure that the significant conditions and exclusions of their offers were made clear.

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