Hull-based online bathroom furniture company Victoria Plum has failed to provide sufficient evidence to disprove claims the retailer advertised misleading prices that were 40% cheaper than its rival.
Victoria Plum ran a TV advert in September 2015, as well as an online ad, stating that its prices on ‘designer products’ were up to 40% lower than its rival, Bathstore.
However, Bathstore challenged the claims to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), stating they were ‘misleading and had not been substantiated’.
Victoria Plum responded to the complaint by saying that it had ‘engaged an independent third-party company’ to match products on its own and Bathstore’s websites. They said they managed their own pricing, and checked Bathstore’s prices twice daily, to ensure a minimum of 10% of all matched products exceeded the 40% discount.
Victoria added that 176 products were matched and that while all of them were cheaper than Bathstore, around 67 to 83 were at least 40% cheaper than an equivalent product. The number of products that were up to 40% cheaper fluctuated during the time the ads appeared due to Bathstore changing their own prices.
Although the ASA acknowledged Victoria’s pricing data, the ASA said that 176 products represented ‘a very small proportion of items overall’ and was ‘likely to contradict the overall impression created by the ads that a significant proportion of products would be cheaper than Bathstore at the quoted saving’.
A statement within the ASA report ruled: “Because Victoria Plum’s ads suggested a significant proportion of their products were lower in price than comparable products from Bathstore, which was not the case, we concluded the claims were misleading and had not been substantiated.
“The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Victoria Plum Ltd not to exaggerate the proportion of items included in their comparative savings claims in future.”