The ASA has recently upheld complaints about two ads for Currys PC World which illustrate the importance of ensuring that “win your money back” and price promotions are both carefully structured and communicated.

Currys PC World issued a TV ad which said that consumers could get a television for half price, with a one-in-twenty chance to get their money back.  They had a similar message on their website.

Ten complainants, who believed that the ad suggested that the TV was being sold at half price when they understood that consumers could only get the half the price back through the promotion, challenged whether the TV ad was misleading. Another complainant challenged whether the website ad was misleading.

Currys PC World believed that the voiceover made it clear to viewers that the ad was offering a chance to win their money back, as opposed to an opportunity to buy the TV for half price. They added that the accompanying text was on the screen for ten seconds, which they believed gave viewers considerable opportunity to read the terms. Currys PC World said that the website banner was accompanied immediately by prominent text that stated that consumers had a one in twenty chance to win half their money back. Although that information was not included in the small print, it was made clear alongside the headline.

The ASA upheld the complaints in relation to both ads. Overall, the ASA considered that viewers were likely to understand from the TV ad that the product could be purchased at half price, and that viewers also had the opportunity to win their money back by entering the competition. However, Currys PC World was not selling the product for half price. Rather, viewers had the opportunity to win half their money back. Therefore, to have a chance to obtain the product for half price, viewers were first required to pay the full cost of the product. Because viewers were likely to understand that the product was being sold for half price, when that was not the case, the ASA considered that the ad was misleading and breached the BCAP Code.

Likewise, the website ad misleadingly suggested that the product was being sold for half price when that was not the case. The ASA concluded that the ad breached the CAP Code rules on misleading advertising, qualifications and significant conditions for promotions.

The ASA told Currys to ensure that they did not misleadingly imply that consumers were able to purchase a product for half price, if that was not the case.

Marketers often want to run promotions where they imply that something is free or half price, although consumers have to pay upfront, and then claim (or in this case win) their money back.  There have been similar issues in relation to promotions that have a “love me or get me free” message where for example you buy the product upfront but can claim it back if you write a review saying why you didn’t like the product.  Such promotions must make it blindingly obvious to consumers that they have to pay money upfront.  Likewise with this promotion, where the ASA ruled it was not obvious that consumers had to pay upfront and then might win half the cost of the television back.