The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against Furniture Village concerning a misleading promotional message.

According to ASA, an in-store PoS price promotion by Furniture Village, seen on 12th January, related to a divan set including a mattress and a base in a sale. During the sale, the set was offered for £549, while stated that the ASP ('after sale price') was £1099.

The complainant, who had hurried to purchase before the promotion ended on 20th January, saw that the price fell after that deadline to £499, and challenged whether the promotion had been administered fairly.

According to the ASA's statement: "Furniture Village Ltd said the divan set in question had been available to purchase since 19th December. It was launched with an introductory offer of £549 against an ASP of £1099. In addition, it was featured as part of an Early Bird promotion which offered two free drawers between 19th December and 6th January. They said that between 7th January and 17th February it was sold without the free drawers at the same introductory offer price of £549 against an ASP of £1099 and did not feature in any other offers during that time. They said the divan was sold in a double bed version as well as king size, and that both sizes were also sold in 'no-drawer' versions. The king-size divan set without drawers was sold at an introductory offer price of £495 against an ASP of £999 in the same 7th January to 17th February period.

"The ASA considered consumers would understand 'Sale' to represent a saving against a genuine, established, usual selling price, and 'Introductory Offer' to refer to an introductory price that was lower than the intended standard price. Both references appeared prominently in the ad. The code allowed for the use of introductory offers as long as it was clear that the lower price was an introductory price rather than a discount against the usual selling price. We acknowledged that the ad stated £1099 as 'ASP' to signify 'after sale price'. However, we considered consumers would not necessarily be familiar with the abbreviation 'ASP' and that, in any case, the references to both a 'Sale' and an 'Introductory Offer' meant that the basis of the savings claim was not clear to consumers.

"The ad did not state the closing date of the offer. However, the terms 'Sale' and 'Introductory Offer' were prominently displayed in conjunction with the £549 price, which was significantly lower than the £1099 price. We noted that, at the same time, Furniture Village was running other offers with short closing dates and that the complainant had seen information in the store which referred to offers ending the following day. We considered that the deadline by which consumers needed to act to take advantage of an offer was significant information. In the context of the elements listed above, we considered the absence of a closing date in this case suggested to consumers that they needed to act very quickly to take advantage of the lower price. In reality, however, the offer seen by the complainant on 12th January ran until 17th February. We therefore considered that the ad did not provide consumers with significant information that was likely to influence their decision to take up the offer.

"Because the basis of the savings claim was not clear and because consumers were likely to believe they had to act more quickly than they needed to, we concluded that the ad breached the code. The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Furniture Village Ltd to ensure future ads made the basis of savings claims clear and did not suggest that consumers needed to act more quickly than was necessary to take advantage of an offer."