The UK's advertising regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), upheld a complaint today against furniture retailer Designer Sofas 4U Ltd after two claims on its website were found to be misleading.
The ASA received a complaint about the retailer's website which challenged firstly whether the sale end date was misleading and secondly whether the RRP price quoted could be substantiated.
In its response to point one, Designer Sofas said in its defence that the decision to advertise offers was taken on a weekly basis and depended on them receiving preferential rates from their supplier. The website also stated that in the case of customers registering interest in a product, they would honour a sale price for a further 7 to 21 days after the offer end date.
In arriving at its upheld verdict the ASA ruled that consumers would understand that the offer was only available until the date stipulated in the ad and that as a result they may have felt pressured into making a purchase by that date when they needn't have done so. It was also noted that the offer end date was given more prominence than the message informing customers to register interest in order to secure the sale price after the promotion had ended. Because the ad implied that the offer price was time limited and would increase when then was not the case the point was upheld.
In defence of point two the retailer provided screen shots from other retailer's websites selling similar sofas. However, the ASA upheld the point noting the variation in prices and that the competing sofas were likely to be of different specifications. The evidence was therefore considered insufficient in demonstrating that the RRP price quoted was a price at which the product in question was generally sold.
The ruling covers two key considerations for retail businesses who engage in time limited price promotions and serves as a reminder to ensure that promotional end dates are not extended and that references prices are genuine.