The UK’s advertising watchdog has found two newsletter promotions to be misleading and in breech of the code.
One email sent on May 26 contained the line: “Up to 45% off Car Parts Ends Tonight!” while another sent the following day read: “Mid Season Sale, up to 45% off car parts”.
A complainant to the ASA believed the advertised discounts did not represent genuine savings, challenged whether the ads were misleading.
Responding, Euro Car Parts provided a pricing history covering a six-month period that included the advertised and actual sold price of all their products that had been included in their sales as advertised by their promotional emails sent on 26 and 27 May 2022. The data covered the period 1 January until 26 July and included sales made through all sales channels including online and in-store. They said that even though their terms of conditions from the two sales excluded in-store sales, store managers had the discretion to match online discounts, which they often did.
They said that in some instances the same part number appeared within the data several times and that showed where the same product had been advertised and sold at different prices across the six-month time period.
However, the ASA disagreed. “We assessed the sales data provided by Euro Car Parts. With regard to the higher prices used as a reference for the savings claims, we noted that for a number of car parts, the ‘headline’ or reference price had fluctuated across that six-month time period with a proportion of the same car part sold at different ‘reference’ prices,” said the authority in a statement.
“We acknowledged that the fluctuation could have been attributed to when sales took place, but without any data relating to when those products had been sold at those prices, it was unclear as to whether that was the case. That meant it was not possible to identify a usual selling price for all the products that had been included in the sales data. In relation to those products that had a more static reference price, there was no data that enabled us to identify when or for how long any of those products had been sold at their reference price. Therefore, Euro Car Parts had not demonstrated that the savings claims represented a genuine saving against the usual selling price of the products”.
“In addition, we noted that the data showed that over 97% of car parts had been sold at a price that was lower than its headline or ‘reference’ price across the six-month period. It was not possible to determine whether the sales at the lower prices were only during the sales periods or whether the products were being sold at those prices throughout the six-month period. However, we considered that based on that data, the headline prices were unlikely to be realistic selling prices for the products, nor their usual selling prices,” concluded the statement.
Following the ruling, a spokesman for Euro Car Parts said: “While we are disappointed that the ASA has found against us and wish to be clear that we would never intentionally mislead our customers, it is evident that some of our historic email advertising caused unnecessary confusion.
“We have cooperated fully with the ASA since it reached out to us, and we are confident that our customers will find our great value pricing model to be clear and consistent.”
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. The Authority told Euro Car Parts to ensure that their future savings claims did not mislead and to ensure that they substantiated savings claims against a usual selling price of their products.