A television advert for Zestify Media Ltd (Zestify), featuring a promotional reference pricing offer has received an upheld ruling by the ASA. An epilator was pictured with a crossed out 'was' price of 39.99 and a 'now' price of 19.99 with a circle claiming "SAVE 50%". The ASA considered that an average consumer would conclude this represented a genuine 50% saving.

In consideration of whether the advert, and use of the reference price, represented a "genuine saving" the ASA considered The Chartered Trading Standards Institute's Guidance for Traders on Pricing Practices (CTSI Guidance) which highlights "reference pricing calls for a high level of trust and integrity". Reference prices are less likely to comply with the rules if the "price comparison was made for a materially longer period than the higher price was offered". On the facts of the Zestify advert, the epilator had been on sale for 74 days at the 'was' price, and last on sale at that price 66 days before the advert. In addition, if significant sales are made at the higher price it is less likely that a reference price will be deemed to be against the rules. In this case no units were sold during the 74 day period it was on sale at the higher reference price of 39.99. The ASA ruling was upheld noting the advert was misleading.

This ruling reiterates the importance of considering the CTSI Guidance prior to issuing any future pricing promotions and related advertisements. In particular, consider the following considerations from the CTSI Guidance:

  • "is any information (however it is given) false?
  • even if the information is factually correct, will it, or the way in which it is presented, deceive or be likely to deceive? and
  • is information that a consumer needs to know omitted, hidden, or given in a manner that is unclear unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely?"