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Health & BeautyHigh Street

Superdrug warned by ASA over ‘free gifts’

Superdrug has been warned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over a ‘free gift’ promotion which offered a free hand towel when customers bought certain products.

One complainant said they had bought the “three black and Asian hair products” required to be eligible for the free ‘ORS Magic Hair Towel’, however they were told the towel had not been delivered and said Superdrug subsequently failed to deliver the towel.

A second complainant said that a promotion which offered “free primer when you buy two St Moriz products” was not upheld when they were told the primer was out-of-stock despite buying the correct number of promotional products.

Superdrug responded by saying that their free gifts were sourced externally for promotions and that they did not normally stock the items. The cosmetics retailer said it had planned that 7,000 of the towels would be enough after a similar promotion saw 5,566 units given away. Because the store in question had sold “relatively few” of the products Superdrug said it had sent it less stock.

The retailer said that the free gift was subject to availability at all times during the promotion and added that an alternative free gift was offered in the form of a bonnet. Superdrug also said they could see no qualifying purchases on their system between 4 and 5 April (when the purchase is said to have happened) at the store.

For the primer promotion, Superdrug said this promotion differed from the towel one as it was a “product with purchase” promotion, which meant the store did stock the free gift separately. Superdrug said they were “never” out-of-stock during the promotion and added that the complainant had missed out on the free gift due to an “IT error”.

The ASA said that it had noted that Superdrug’s promotion had ended, however it said that the promotion had caused “unnecessary disappointment” amongst the retailer’s customers. The ASA told Superdrug that “if they intended to run similar promotions in the future, they should ensure that they were administered fairly and avoided causing unnecessary disappointment”.

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