The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against DIY retailer Wickes, stating advertisements for multi-buy kitchen discount were misleading.
It referred to online adverts on Wickes’ website for a “Heritage Bone Showroom Kitchen” and a page entitled “Kitchens”
Both advertisements included text that stated “Multi-Buy 50% off Showroom Kitchen Units when you buy 5+”
Six complaints, including consumer watchdog Which?, challenged the claim ‘Multi-Buy 50% off Showroom Kitchen Units when you buy 5+” was misleading.
The ASA noted both adverts featured images of a full kitchen and although recognised the website included references to ‘multi-buy’, all other text and images referred to kitchens, as opposed to individual units.
In that context, the ASA considered consumer would understand they would be able to make a genuine saving against the price they would otherwise have paid for a full kitchen.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Guidance for Traders on Pricing Practices stated: “If your proposed pricing practice explicitly or by implication indicates a saving against another price you must be able to satisfy yourself that the quoted saving in genuine and therefore not unfair.”
It also made clear that where a retailer repeatedly used a reference point knowing they had not previously sold a significant number of units, that price was less likely to be a genuine reference for a saving.”
The ASA noted Wickes’ argument that consumer would see the offer as a saving on hte price per unit when five or more were bought.It also accepted that consumers would be familiar with multi-buy offers.
However, it considered that multi-buy did not incentivise consumers to buy more units, because kitchens were customarily comprised of more than five units from Wickes sales data.
Therefore, ASA found the price of a single unit was not valid as a reference for saving on a full kitchen and did not represent a genuine saving for consumers.
In addition, Wickes has increased the price of individual units on the day of promotion,
A 300mm High Base Line Unit for the Heritage Bone range was priced £159 from February 22 to August 15, 2018 and increased to £318 on the day of the promotion.
Similar price increases occurred on very unit across each range.
A unit bought as part of the 50% off multi-buy offer cost the same as it had before the 50% off multi-buy promotion began.
The ASA told Wickes not to mislead by basing discount claims on reference prices that were not likely to be meaningful for consumers, and ensure list prices were not altered to give the impression of a genuine saving.
The ad must not appear again in the same form.
Which? responded to the ASA ruling against Wickes, as head of home products and services Natalie Hitchens commented: “Our investigation exposed how a number of major kitchen and bathroom retailers were using potentially misleading tricks to make a sale.
“Today’s ruling indicates that this offer from Wickes should never have been run in the first place.
“If it, and other retailers, continue to play fast and loose with the rules, we urge Trading Standards and the ASA to intervene and send a clear message that these practices have to stop.”