What you see is what you get – headline prices and cashback or trade-in promotions.

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) Compliance team have recently found themselves following up on a number of complaints about sponsored search ads where a stated headline price has been reduced by the amount of a cashback or trade-in offer.  For example; “Camera £2000” or “Printer £50” but where this price includes a cashback amount or a trade-in discount.

What’s the problem?

Ads that state headline prices in this way, particularly in this medium, are likely to breach this ASA ruling. In that case, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found that ads where a cashback amount had been subtracted from the headline price had broken the rules because they misled consumers about the price they’d need to pay to buy the products.

How is this misleading?

Consumers are likely to expect to be able to purchase a product at the headline price stated in an ad, without having to:

  • pay extra if they do not meet the terms and conditions of a promotional offer (to which they may not be eligible) or;
  • claim cashback after purchase that they won’t receive until sometime later.

If this expectation isn’t met, then they’re likely to have been misled materially.

So can I advertise these offers?

Of course, cashback or trade-in promotions are not problems in and of themselves – but you shouldn’t subtract these offers from the headline price if doing so is likely to mislead consumers about how much they’ll need to pay at the outset.

What should I do?

Advice is to state prices that reflect the amount that will be paid by consumers at the time of purchase.  For example; “Camera £2250 – £250 Trade-In Bonus Available” or “Printer £70 – And claim up to £20 Cashback”.

It’s also likely to be acceptable to state both a full headline price and a price inclusive of a cashback or trade-in offer provided the latter isn’t given more prominence.

And – don’t forget that as these are promotional offers you’ll need to make sufficiently clear the necessary significant conditions.

Source: CAP

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