“Normal” selling prices must be substantiated
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have upheld complaints against two Daily Deal websites regarding the way “normal retail prices” were advertised. Both Gumtree and Wowcher relied on screenshots from the retailers websites as justification of the regular selling price to justify their offers.
In both case the products were supplied by Sonic distributors and the ASA considered that consumers would understand the pre-discount prices stated in the ads to mean that the products were generally sold to consumers by Sonic at those prices. The trouble is as a distributor Sonic doesn’t generally sell direct to consumers and even though Wowcher also had screen shots of the products available on other retailers sites that wasn’t enough.
“We considered that, in order to substantiate such price claims, we would need to see documentary evidence, such as receipts or sales records, that the products were generally sold at the quoted “was” prices” was the ASA ruling in the case of Gumtree, and they used almost exactly the same words in the case of Wowcher.
It would appear that claims of “RRP” or “Was” prices will need to be properly backed up in future when claiming discounts on the Internet. Screen shots of the price isn’t enough – documentary evidence to substantiate that the pre-discount prices quoted really are the prices at which the products have been sold to consumers are what the ASA which to see.
In Canada ebay itself was cited by our equivalent of the ASA for faking regular prices and inflating discounts on their “big deal. That was after ebay staff argued on their forum there wasn’t anything wrong with it because it was “the industry standard” and claimed they verified the regular prices as being accurate. One of the regularly featured sellers had been found in violation previously.
Ebay’s minimal reaction was just to add “up to” in front of their fake savings claims that continue.