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ASA upholds complaint against Homebase’s ‘15% off’ adverts

The ASA has upheld a complaint against Homebase which argued that a TV ad, a radio ad, and an ad on www.homebase.co.uk were misleading, because they did not make clear that customers could not use promotional vouchers to make purchases under the offer.

An abridged version of the ASA report follows, however the full report can be seen by following the link at the bottom of this page:

a) The TV ad voice-over stated, "This weekend at Homebase there's 15% off everything when you spend £50. That's 15% on top of our other great offers. Homebase." On-screen text stated "15% off Excludes delivery charges, installation and gift vouchers".

b) The radio ad stated, "This weekend at Homebase there's a 15% off event in-store when you spend £50. That's 15% on top of our other great offers. Homebase. Exclusions apply."

c) The website ad stated "15% off everything Ends Sunday 20th May when you spend £50* Even on existing offers Use code DISCOUNT15 in the trolley *T&C's apply".

Response by Homebase:

Homebase explained that the terms and conditions on the Homebase promotional voucher the complainant had attempted to use, which had been sent to Nectar Card holders and was for "£5 OFF when you spend £30", should have stated that it could not be used "during National Homebase discount days". They explained that was the term they used to describe "X% off" discounts which were available nationally on specific days, and the promotion described in the ad therefore was a national discount day. They apologised that an error had meant that that condition had not been included on the voucher and the complainant had therefore understood that it could be used in conjunction with the national discount day promotion when that was not the case.

Response from ASA:

The ASA noted all the ads emphasised that the 15% discount applied "even on existing" or "on top of our other" offers, and we considered consumers would therefore be likely to understand that the national discount day offer could be used in conjunction with all other Homebase promotions. We considered consumers would understand the use of Homebase promotional vouchers, such as the "£5 OFF when you spend £30" voucher, as an 'offer' as referenced in the ads, because they could be used to get money off purchases.

We noted Clearcast's view that consumers would understand the on-screen text in the TV ad to mean that they could not use promotional vouchers as payment for purchases in conjunction with the offer, but we considered that consumers would instead understand the text to mean that purchases of gift vouchers were excluded from the offer. We noted the radio ad stated "Exclusions apply" but considered that, because the overall impression of the ad was that the national discount day offer could be used in conjunction with all Homebase's other offers, including their promotional vouchers, the statement contradicted, rather than clarified, the claim "That's 15% on top of our other great offers". We noted Homebase's acknowledgement that full details of exclusions to the offer should have been included on their website but, similarly, we considered that such an inclusion would have contradicted, rather than clarified, the claim "Even on existing offers" in the website ad.

We concluded the ads were misleading, because the overall impression of each of the ads was that the national discount day offer could be used in conjunction with all other Homebase offers, when that was not in fact the case. We also concluded the statement "Exclusions apply" in the radio ad contradicted, rather than clarified, that impression.

Source : ASA
www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2012/10/Homebase-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_197870.aspx

12 October 2012
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