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ASA upholds complaint over Euro Car Parts advert with mass discounts

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ruled against two LKQ Euro Car Parts adverts sent to customers by email concerning product savings.

The company sent two emails on consecutive days offering savings and discounts to customers. The first, on 26th May, stated “Up to 45% off Car Parts Ends Tonight!” and included a countdown timer, together with an offer end date of 26th May 2022. However, a second email sent on 27th May, included the text “Jubilee sale, up to 50% off car parts”, in the body, with an offer end date of 31st May 2022. 

A complaint was made to the ASA, challenging whether the LKQ Euro Car Parts adverts were misleading, as they did not represent genuine savings.

During the investigation, LKQ Euro Car Parts provided the ASA with a pricing history that covered a six-month period, including the advertised and actual sold price of all their products included in the sales on the email adverts. The data covered a period between 1st January and 26th July and included sales made both online and in-store.

The company also stated that the terms and conditions on the email adverts excluded in-store sales, however managers had the discretion to match online discounts, which they often did.

It also stated that in some instances the same part number appeared within the data several times and that showed where the same product had been advertised and sold at different prices across the six-month time period.

Euro Car parts adverts ruling

However, following its investigation, the ASA upheld the complaint over the Euro Car Parts advert. In its ruling, it stated that consumers would understand that the two statements over discounts to mean they would be making a genuine saving against the usual selling price of car parts, and that a significant proportion would be discounted up to 45% and 50% respectively.

The authority also said that a significant proportion of those receiving the advert would believe the savings claims referred to temporary price promotions, and therefore those prices would revert to their higher selling prices after the end dates. 

“With reference to [the 45% discount advert] we considered that consumers would understand that the use of a countdown timer displaying days, hours, minutes and seconds combined with the title of the email including the phrase “Ends tonight” to mean that the discounts on products covered in that sale would be unavailable after the end of the countdown and that the same products would revert to their usual selling price,” the ASA stated in its ruling. 

“We noted, however, that [the 50% discount] introduced a sale with a larger discount the day after the previous sale had ended. It was therefore unlikely that the reductions in this offer would constitute savings against the usual selling price of the products.

Fluctuating headline price data

The ASA assessed the sales data provided by LKQ Euro Car Parts, and found that, with regard to higher prices used as a reference for the saving claims, the headline price had fluctuated across that six-month time period with a proportion of the same car part sold at different ‘reference’ prices. Although the association acknowledged that the fluctuation could have been attributed to when sales took place, it was unclear as to whether this was the case without any data relating to when those products had been sold at those prices.

That meant it was not possible to identify a usual selling price for all the products that had been included in the sales data. In relation to those products that had a more static reference price, the ASA added that there was no data that enabled it to identify when or for how long any of those products had been sold at their reference price. Therefore, Euro Car Parts had not demonstrated that the savings claims represented a genuine saving against the usual selling price of the products.

“In addition, we noted that the data showed that over 97% of car parts had been sold at a price that was lower than its headline or ‘reference’ price across the six-month period,” added the ASA. “It was not possible to determine whether the sales at the lower prices were only during the sales periods or whether the products were being sold at those prices throughout the six-month period. However, we considered that based on that data, the headline prices were unlikely to be realistic selling prices for the products, nor their usual selling prices.

It therefore concluded that the savings claims had not been substantiated, and were misleading. The ASA told LKQ Euro Car parts to ensure that their future savings claims did not mislead and to ensure that they substantiated savings claims against a usual selling price of their products.

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