Advertisements for a kettle and a slow cooker on Shopping TV misled viewers over price savings and subjected them to undue pressure to buy.
The Advertising Standards Authority found that the ads breached advertising code rules on several counts, and told the shopping channel to change the ads and to stop making claims for products that could not be backed up.
The ads purported to be live reverse auctions, with a start price for the product, of which a limited quantity was available. The price dropped over the course of the ad but viewers were told that at whatever point they bought the product they would only pay the final, lowest price. However, viewers were also shown the quantity of products available dropping.
In the March 22 ad for a brushed stainless steel kettle the price started at £40 and ended at £19.99. On-screen graphics showed 16 kettles available initially, although the presenter said there were 10. Only one was left at the end.
The ASA noted that the ad had been repeated several times, with the same start and end prices. However, it was not made clear that it was a repeat, and viewers could be led to think that this was a genuine, live reverse auction. The watchdog also said that the contradictory information about the number of kettles left was confusing and misleading.
The ad for a Morphy Richards slow cooker featured a starting price of £70, with “Special price £37.99” shown in on-screen graphics. According to the presenter: “I want you to check in your local high street…check wherever you want. You will not get this for £37.99 anywhere. You will pay £70.”
The final price was £29.99 – although the graphics still confusingly showed it at £37.99 – and viewers were told: “It will never be £29.99 again, ever again.”
However, the ASA said that while the ad implied that this was a one-time-only chance to get the slow cooker the ad was repeated two days later. It concluded that consumers had been deprived of the opportunity to make an informed choice and that undue pressure to purchase had been applied.
It also said that the highest high street price for the cooker was actually £40 and that it could be bought on the internet for £19.95. Similarly, it failed to find the kettle being sold anywhere at Shopping TV’s starting price of £40 and said it was priced at between £24 and £17.38 on the internet.
Shopping TV’s starting prices were therefore not genuine and the ads misleadingly implied savings.
The ASA added that the postage and packing price was also too small in the ads to be legible.