Three issues were investigated by the ASA in respect of emails to customers which contained the following wording:
“Extra 10% Off ALL Home Sale“; “SALE CONTINUES – UP TO 50% OFF* HOME + EXTRA 10% OFF*“; and “UP TO 70% OFF* FASHION + FURTHER REDUCTIONS“.
“40% Off Everything ends tonight“; and “NEW SEASON LAUNCH EVENT ENDS TONIGHT 40% OFF* EVERYTHING“.
“Hurry! 40% Off EVERYTHING Event ends TONIGHT“; “Due to higher than expected order volumes, some of you may have experienced difficulty online over the weekend in placing your orders“; and “OFFER HAS BEEN EXTENDED ENDS MIDNIGHT TONIGHT 40% OFF* EVERYTHING“.
The first issue concerned the savings claims which were made. The ASA considered that these claims had not been substantiated and were misleading because the higher “previous” prices stated were not the correct amounts at which items were usually sold at the time of the advertisement. Therefore, the price claims did not represent genuine savings and the advertisements presented the information ambiguously.
In respect of the email stating: “40% Off Everything ends tonight“, concerns were raised that consumers were likely to understand that they would need to make a purchase before the end of the date on which the email had been sent in order to participate in the sale. However, the closing date was in fact extended by a day due to technical difficulties with customers making payments through the Laura Ashley website. The ASA considered that these circumstances were unavoidable and beyond the control of the retailer. Had Laura Ashley not chosen to change the sale closing date, those who were unable to participate within the original terms of the sale would have been disadvantaged. Therefore, the complaint in respect of this issue was not upheld.
The final issue concerned whether the advertisements were misleading since they failed to set out significant limitations and qualifications, and the asterisks next to the claims did not link to any relevant text. The ASA ruled that the advertisements breached the CAP Code on the basis that the claims made were misleading, and the advertisements omitted important information and did not state significant limitations, conditions and qualifications.