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ASA rules against Victoria Plum adverts

Victoria Plum bathroom website 725 x 500

The ASA has upheld complaints made against online bathroom retailer, Victoria Plum, by a member of the public and bathroom retailer Victorian Plumbing Ltd.

The following text is from the ASA ruling:

Two website ads for Victoria Plum, an online bathroom retailer, on, and a sponsored search ad:

a. The website, seen on 25 September 2015, featured a product page for a “Drift Sawn Oak 2 Door Floor Mounted Unit & Basin”. The price of the product was stated as “£199 Was £299 YOU SAVE £100”.

b. The website, seen on 8 October 2015, featured a web page about careers at the retailer, which included the claim “We are the UK’s No 1 online bathroom retailer”.

c. The sponsored search ad, seen on 8 October 2015, included the claim “The Official Site of the UK’s Leading Bathroom Retailer”.

The ASA received two complaints:

1. A member of the public, who had recently received a brochure from Victoria Plum which stated the price of the product in ad (a) as £169, challenged whether the price and savings claim “£199 Was £299 YOU SAVE £100” in ad (a) was misleading and could be substantiated; and

2. Victorian Plumbing Ltd challenged whether the claim “… the UK’s No 1 online bathroom retailer” in ad (b) and the claim “the UK’s Leading Bathroom Retailer” in ad (c) were misleading and could be substantiated.
CAP Code (Edition 12)

1. Victoria Plum Ltd t/a said the brochure received by the complainant was first circulated on 24 July and at that time the price of £169 stated in the brochure was correct. They said the terms and conditions in the brochure stated that its prices were valid up to and including 31 July 2015.

They said the “was” price in ad (a) of £299 was the advertised price of the product for 27 consecutive days from 28 August to 23 September 2015, and that the price was changed to £199, as stated in ad (a), on 24 September and that it remained at that price until 24 November. They later provided a pricing history which showed the “was” price of £299 had applied from 28 August to 22 September (a period of 26 days), and that the price of £199 had applied from 23 September to 21 November. They confirmed that no one had purchased the product while it was priced at £299.

Victoria Plum said they were aware that the BIS Pricing Practices Guide (PPG) required a product to be price-established for at least 28 days and therefore the price establishment for the product was not in line with that guidance. That was due to an administrative error resulting in the price being changed one day early.

2. Victoria Plum said the claims were based on them having the highest turnover of bathroom retailers in the UK which operated only online. To substantiate the claim they provided a copy of their audited accounts for the year up to March 2014, and copies of the audited accounts, as lodged with Companies House, of two competitors who they identified as the largest along with themselves. They had identified those competitors based on the volume of Google searches in the year up to October 2015, for individual bathroom retailers by name, using data from a third-party company that measured trends in search behaviour.
Victoria Plum said the accounts showed their turnover was the highest, by around £16 million more than their closest competitor. They acknowledged that their competitors’ accounts related to more recent time periods than their own (the years up to April 2014 and October 2014 respectively) but said that their next filed accounts, for the year up to March 2015, would show that their turnover had increased by over 30% from the previous year. Therefore, if they calculated their turnover over a period more comparable to the filed accounts of their competitors, their turnover would be shown to be even higher.
Victoria Plum said they considered the claim was also substantiated by the volume of consumers who searched for their company on Google compared to the volume of searches for their competitors in the year up to October 2015. Compared with the two competitor companies referenced above, there were nearly 2 million more searches for Victoria Plum than for their closest competitor. Victoria Plum said they understood those two companies were their closest competitors because, combined with Victoria Plum, searches for the three companies amounted to 48.6% of the traffic, the next highest number of searches was for a bathroom retailer which did not operate exclusively online, and the next four combined accounted for 19.3% of traffic.

Ads (a), (b) and (c) must not appear again in their current form. We told Victoria Plum Ltd to ensure that future savings claims did not mislead in relation to the benefit available. We also told them to ensure that comparative claims were clear as to the basis of the comparison and that they held suitable evidence to support that comparison.

For the full review on the ASA website, please click here.

Source : ASA

02 March 2016

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