Currys PC World has been rebuked for a misleading advert which claimed customers could "save £200" despite being on offer at the lower price for many more days than its previous higher price.

Regulator the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated following a consumer complaint about the advert, which appeared on the Currys website in December last year.

It said customers could "save £200" as the laptop was £949.99, and smaller grey text said it had been sold at £1,149.99 between 25 October 2016 to 14 November 2016.

However, the ASA said the ad was misleading as the laptop had been sold at the promotional price for longer than the original price, banned it from appearing again and told the company not to make the same mistake in future.

Martin Lewis
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ASA: 'Save £200 did not represent a genuine saving'

The ASA found the laptop had been sold at the higher price for just 21 days, while it had been on offer at the lower price for 32. It added that Currys had only sold seven laptops at the higher price, compared with 74 at the lower price.

Today's ruling said: "Because the product had been on sale at the lower promotional price for a materially longer period of time than the initial 'was' price, and because over 10 times more units had been sold at the promotional price than the 'was' price, we concluded that "Save £200" did not represent a genuine saving against the usual selling price of the product, and that the ad was therefore misleading."

Currys has so far failed to comment.

Currys rapped for 'Save £200' laptop ad which did not represent a genuine saving
Regulator the Advertising Standards Authority investigated following a consumer complaint

How to spot unfair price promotions

There are strict laws to stop consumers being treated unfairly. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute has released pricing practice guidelines for traders. It says traders are more likely to be seen as treating consumers fairly if:

  • The product was available at a higher price for longer than the promotional price.
  • The 'was' price was available in that shop or on that website.
  • The 'was' price is the most recent and the price hasn't changed in between that and the current promotion.
  • They compare to a relevant price, eg, they don't compare it to a high out-of-season price when they would lower the price for peak season.
  • They made a significant number of sales at the higher price.