An advert for 50 per cent off kitchens at Wickes has been banned because the DIY chain doubled prices on the same day, effectively cancelling out any benefit from the promotion.
The advertising watchdog ruled that Wickes’ offer for a Heritage Bone showroom kitchen on its website in August and September was misleading and cannot be shown again in the same form.
Wickes advertised the kitchen starting at £2,086, including a multi-buy discount of 50 per cent off for customers who bought five or more units and 50 per cent off installation.
But Wickes simultaneously raised the list price for each individual unit, meaning the overall cost was the same as it had been before the promotion.
The cost of one unit rose from £159 to £318, “effectively cancelling out any saving”, the Advertising Standards Authority said. Similar price increases occurred on every unit across each range.
Under Trading Standards rules, retailers must have previously sold a significant number of units at a certain price if they want to use that price as a reference for a discount.
The ASA upheld six complaints, including one from consumer group Which?, that the promotion misled customers.
Which? also complained that customers might have felt rushed to buy a kitchen, believing that the offer would end when in fact the same price had been available for a long period of time.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: “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.”
Wickes defended its advert, claiming that the offer was a multi-buy promotion rather than a discount on the previous selling price.
It said multi-buy offers were a common and legitimate sales mechanism and were well understood by consumers, and added that its offer in relation to kitchen units was in line with market practice.
Banning the ad, the ASA told Wickes not to alter list prices in a way that gave the misleading impression that a genuine saving could be made when that was not the case.
It also told the retailer not to base price claims on the cost of an individual unit where the ad was clearly promoting full kitchens.
The ASA said: “We therefore considered that the price of a single unit was not valid in this context as a reference for a saving on a full kitchen, and that the claimed saving based on the showroom list price of a single unit did not represent a genuine saving for consumers.”
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