Lowest and Unbeatable Price Claims and Price Promises/Guarantees
“Lowest”, “cheapest” or “best” price claims
Price superiority claims are acceptable where advertisers can provide evidence that their prices are lower than any of their competitors’. The validity of such claims and an advertiser’s ability to substantiate them is usually affected by:
- The frequency with which competitors change their prices; for example, supermarket grocery product prices are typically subject to frequent adjustment.
- The number or range of products to which the claim refers; for example, it will usually be easier to demonstrate price superiority in relation to a single, named model of car than to a full range of products advertised by a DIY store.
In most cases, therefore, advertisers will need to show that they have implemented an ongoing price monitoring policy, and are able immediately to adjust their prices and/or amend their advertising to reflect competitor price changes.
In view of the difficulty of substantiating claims to offer the lowest prices, in most cases they will need to be qualified by a price promise/price guarantee. These terms refer to an undertaking to either reimburse consumers, or sell an advertised product(s) at a lower price, if they find it offered more cheaply by a competitor. The effect of the promise must be to ensure that products are always available at the lowest price available on the market.
Providing that the following guidance is adhered to advertisers would not need to provide evidence of ongoing price monitoring:
- Full written details of a price promise must be made available to the consumer at the point of sale or on the advertiser’s website. Radiocentre will need to see evidence of this.
- The nature of the promise must be made clear in the advertisement; for example, “Our price for X is the best. If you find it cheaper elsewhere, we’ll double the difference” or a standalone claim such as, “we’ll beat any like for like quote.” Alternatively, advertisers may invite customers to find out about the details of the price promise; for example, “Our price for X is the best. Ask in store for details of our price promise/see www.etc for details of our price promise”.
- Important limitations attached to a price promise must be stated in the advertisement; for example, if there are significant geographical restrictions or if the promise excludes online competitor prices.
“Price guarantee” and “lowest prices guaranteed”
Care is required in the use of “guarantee” where it is linked to price. A distinction is drawn between a “lowest price guarantee” claim, as described above, where an advertiser is simply undertaking to reimburse a consumer or offer a lower/matched price in the event of a consumer finding an item offered more cheaply by a competitor, and terms such as “Lowest prices guaranteed” or “we guarantee the lowest prices”. These terms imply that an advertiser has established that they have the lowest prices and would have to be supported by evidence of a rigorous price monitoring and adjustment policy.
“Unbeatable”, “you can’t buy cheaper” or “price match” claims
Price parity claims are acceptable where advertisers can provide evidence that their prices are as low as, but not necessarily lower than, their competitors’ prices. The same principles described above apply, and in most cases claims will have to be supported by a price promise/price guarantee; for example “We won’t be beaten on price for X. If you find it cheaper elsewhere we’ll refund the difference”, or “We won’t be beaten on price for X. Ask in store for details of our price promise”. The effect of the promise must be ensure that products are always available at or below the lowest price available on the market.