The advert in question was for a Canon Powershot SX620 camera priced at £179.99, in which further text said the camera came with a free 16GB SD card and case. The camera on its own was also for sale on the website at £159.99, without the free extras.
The ASA said in a statement: “The ASA noted that marketers must not describe an element of a package as ‘free’ if that element was included in the package price, unless consumers were likely to regard it as an additional benefit because it had recently been added to the package without increasing its price.
“The ad stated ‘£179.99’ and ‘Plus free 16GB SD Card & Case’. We considered that consumers would understand this to mean that the camera had been available to purchase on its own for £179.99 and that the other items were provided at no additional charge.”
The ASA ruled that the advert was “misleading and could not be substantiated”, adding: “The ad must not appear again in the form complained about.”
Argos defended the advert arguing the camera had first been sold for £249.99 before being offered in a bundle at £199.99 and was then put into clearance at the price of £179.99.
The retailer argued that it was the clearance team who had decided to offer the bundle at a cheaper price, which was why it was then offered for less than the single camera.