ASA Adjudication on Treatme.net Ltd
Parkway Zone 2
Deeside Industrial Estate
25 July 2012
Internet (sales promotion)
Number of complaints:
The website www.Treatme.net, visited on 25 October 2011, offered a number of driving experiences. The prices given were sale prices against the full prices and stated "Offer Ends Wed 26th Oct".
A complainant challenged whether the offer end date was misleading, because it changed each day.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Treatme.net said they did not believe the offers misled customers because the special offers could end on the dates stated. They said the companies that supplied the experiences had days to fill and that, as a date approached, they frequently found themselves with spare capacity. In that situation, the offer continued beyond the original end date because, to ensure profitability, it was very much in the suppliers' interests to sell the vacant slots. Treatme.net said they reviewed availability before extending an offer and that the price of the offers represented genuine discounts against the full price. They said that, when an event day was filled before the event date, the offer was removed from their website. They believed their reasons for extending offer end dates were valid.
The ASA noted that offers had the potential to end on the end dates originally specified by Treatme.net. However, we also noted that it appeared that Treatme.net's suppliers of event days were frequently left with spare capacity and that, because of that, Treatme.net extended the offer end dates. We noted that there were reasons for extending the end dates of offers and that the terms of the offer (i.e. the price) did not change to the advantage of customers when the offer end date was extended. Nevertheless, we considered that, to state that an offer ended on a specific date, when there were good reasons for judging that the offer might well continue to be available beyond that date, implied an undue sense of urgency to take up the offer and meant that consumers might, for instance, hurry to make a decision or decide not to shop around because they believed an offer was about to expire. Because of that, we concluded that the offer end date was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.31 (Availability), 8.2 (Sales promotions), 8.14 (Administration) and 8.17.4 (Significant conditions for promotions - closing date).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Treatme.net not to place undue pressure on consumers by extending offers beyond the original end date.