ASA upholds complaint against Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley has had his knuckles wrapped by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) for a misleading website and a Facebook post.

A complaint was issued to the ASA over an advert on the home page of www.lauraashley.com, seen in December 2016, which promoted an “Up to 50% off Sale”. The terms and conditions page of the website stated that the sale ended on 2 January 2017.

A post on Laura Ashley’s Facebook page, posted on 21 December 2016, stated “Seasonal Offers, up to 60% off. 21 December – 2 January”.

The complainant, who understood that some sale items continued to be discounted and, in some cases were discounted even further after 2 January, challenged whether the closing date was misleading.

Laura Ashley said that in this case some items that were discounted in their winter sale were then discounted again in a separate sale which began in January.

The retailer said it was common for items to be discounted in more than one sale throughout the year and that in future they would ensure that their sales were clearly labelled so that it was clear that the discounted items were in separate sales.

ASA considered that consumers would generally understand from the ad that, in order to take advantage of the price reduction they would need to take the offer up by the 2 January, and the price would therefore return to the original price after that date. However, in this case the prices on some items continued to be discounted after 2 January.

Although ASA acknowledged that this was the result of a second sale and not the result of the promotional end-date being extended, it considered that the inclusion of a closing date in the ads implied that the prices for products in the promotion would be increased after that date. Because that was not the case, the regulatory body concluded that the ads were misleading.

ASA told Laura Ashley not to imply that a product would revert to a higher price if that was not the case.

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