Two complainants told the ASA that they felt the adverts, seen in November 2018, could be misleading. The first advert featured on the retailer’s website and read “Black Friday countdown, up to 60% off” and added that an extra 15% discount was available on “selected lines only”.
The second advert was seen on a search listing, and read “pre-Black Friday countdown, up to 60% off + extra 15% Off, up to 60% fragrances + extra 15% off selected lines”.
Claims that the adverts were misleading were challenged by The Fragrance Shop which said that claims could be substantiated. The Fragrance Shop provided the ASA with data relating to items included in the sale, which indicated that 20% of the products had been discounted by 60% off the RRP.
The ASA said it felt consumers would consider a claim of “up to 60% off” to mean that a significant proportion of products were discounted at the top rate. The regulator said it expected consumers to assume that the “extra 15%” discount meant that some products had a discount of 75%, the ASA said that with the data provided it could only see proof that products had been discounted by 66% at the highest point of discount.
As only 1.5% of the 135 products in The Fragrance Shop’s sale were priced at 60% off and that the claim of an “extra 15% off” was “not in line with how consumers were likely to view the claim”, the ASA considered that the adverts were “misleading” and in breach of the Code of Advertising Practice (CAP). The ASA also said it had “concerns over the adequacy of the evidence” that the retailer had provided.
The ASA concluded that the ads “must not appear again in the form complained about” and said that the retailer must “ensure that their pricing claims did not mislead” and hold “sufficient evidence for their claims”.