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B&Q lodges complaint over Homebase ad

Published: 23 February 2011
ASA rules that 'extra 15% off' statement in Homebase summer sale commercial is misleading after rival DIY chain challenges TV ad.
The contention lay with a voiceover on the Homebase TV ad, which stated: "The Homebase summer sale is now on and there's a extra 15% off everything when you spend over £50. That's an extra 15% off all our kitchens, all bathrooms and our great range of furniture too."

The images on a billboard in the ad also rotate to show various shots of Homebase products and text, which reads, "extra 15% off".

B&Q lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) and challenged whether the claim "extra 15%" was misleading and implied that other discounts had already been applied to the listed products.

Homebase's response was that every picture in the ad was part of an existing promotion and therefore the customers would get an additional 15% off those specific items. The did admit however, that not all products in their kitchen, bathroom and furniture ranges were already discounted and acknowledge that if a customer selected a single non-promoted item purchased over £50, or picked a basket or entirely of non-promoted goods then they would not get an 'extra' discount but would still receive a 15% discount.

The home improvement retailer added that no customer complaints had been lodged with their customer service team or Trading Standards as far as it was aware and that it had not set out to deliberately mislead. Homebase has since instructed its TV team to amend all future ads to remove any references to 'extra'.

The ASA explained; "Because we considered that the ad implied that all items at Homebase were already discounted, and because we understood that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading."

However, B&Q has itself been the subject of a ruling by the ASA recently, when an ad for loft insulation was also deemed misleading.

Last week the ASA revealed that it had received two customer complaints over the advert, which was headlined "insulate your loft for only £25". One complaint challenged whether the claim misleadingly implied that consumers could insulate their loft from scratch for £25, whereas he understood that the advertised price could only be achieved when the product was used to top up existing insulation.

Small print on the ad does in fact state that that the price is based on topping up existing insulation by 170mm in a typical 44 sq m three bed semi-detached home.

The ASA upheld the claim, ruling that the small print contained "significant information likely to affect the reader's understanding of the headline claim" and that it should have been made clear in the body of the ad.

B&Q has now amended the ad to read "top up your insulation for £25".

The ASA also upheld a complaint by another customer who queried the claim that "a fully-insulated loft could save you around £150 a year", which was also included in the ad. It ruled that customers would misleadingly believe they could make the saving using the products advertised, when in fact the saving was based on a fully-insulated loft to the government recommended depth of 270mm, and not the top-up insulation featured.

B&Q said the claim had been included in error and had now removed the wording fro the pack-shot feature in the ad.

In other news, a case against B&Q was thrown out of court this month when Trading Standards tried to prosecute the DIY chain over inadequate warnings on its own-brand cement after a customer received burns to her legs.

Trading Standards was reported to have branded the cement "unsafe" and said it had inadequate warning signs about the dangers and corrosive properties of the product, after Jan Dobson was left with burns on her legs from kneeling in the cement while doing DIY in her kitchen.

During the hearing at Southampton Magistrates Court it was claimed that the lime ingredient in the cement becomes dangerous when water is added and can burn skin if not washed off within minutes of contact.

However, the case was thrown out by district judge Anthony Callaway, who ruled that the product did not breach any safety laws and that B&Q could not have reasonably forseen that somebody would kneel in the cement.

A spokesperson for B&Q said: "Whilst the court agreed that B&Q did not breach any safety laws, this is clearly an unfortunate incident. The wellbeing of our customers is always paramount and following the incident we have changed the safety warning on this product."

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Published prior to March 2014
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