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ASA upholds Homebase complaint against B&Q

A complaint regarding a B&Q promotion, submitted by Homebase, has today been upheld by the ASA.

Homebase complained that a national press advert and an in-store flyer featured an extension to the closing date of a promotional offer, challenging whether it was misleading and had been conducted fairly.

The text of the ruling follows:

Ad:
a. A national press ad for B&Q showed photographs of fitted kitchen and bedroom furniture and stated "20% OFF ... OFFER EXTENDED ENDS 9TH MAY".

b. An in-store flyer showed photographs of fitted kitchen, bedroom and bathroom furniture and stated "20% off ... OFFER EXTENDED ... Friday 26th April - Thursday 9th May".

Issue:
Homebase challenged whether the promotion was misleading and had been conducted fairly, because the closing date had been extended without good cause.

Response:
B&Q said the offer began on 22 March 2013 and was due to run until 25 April. They said the end date was extended due to lower than expected sales, which they considered was a legitimate reason, and was publicised before the original end date. They said there was always a possibility that the end date of a promotion would need to be extended and, for that reason, had avoided, in the ads which stated the original end date, what they considered to be superfluous language that over-exaggerated the need for consumers to respond. They said the start and end dates were included in the original ads because they were required by the CAP Code, but that there was no intention to suggest that some or all of the prices would not continue to apply. They did not believe there were any calls to action in the ads or that they suggested the offer was time limited.

B&Q said the original end date was the "minimum" end date, i.e. the date until which the offer would definitely be available. They did not believe customers who took up the offer before the original 25 April end date were disadvantaged and considered customers would in fact benefit from an offer being extended.

Assessment:
Upheld
The ASA considered that the original ad, which stated the original offer dates, despite not stating them in conjunction with explicit calls to action such as "hurry," nevertheless suggested that, to take advantage of the 20% off offer, customers needed to take it up by the original 25 April end date. Because that end date was subsequently extended, we considered customers, who might have hurried to make a decision to take advantage of the offer before the original end date, had been disadvantaged. We considered that the lower than expected number of sales, while not in itself within B&Q's control, was nevertheless an insufficient, and not unavoidable, reason for them to extend the end date of the offer. Because of that, we concluded that the promotion was misleading and in breach of the CAP Code.

The promotion breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.31 (Availability), 8.2 (Sales promotions) and 8.17.4.e (Significant conditions for promotions).

Action:
The promotion must not appear again in its current form. We told B&Q to ensure closing dates of promotions were not extended unless circumstances outside their reasonable control made it unavoidable.

Source : ASA
www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2013/10/BandQ-plc/SHP_ADJ_232116.aspx

16 October 2013
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