Arnold Clark has had to modify its future online adverts after a campaign was upheld by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) following one complaint.
The website ad featured a picture of a car with text that stated, “64 Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium X 5dr Cost New £16,745 From £13,488 Save £3257 on Cost New £274.75 per month £300.00 deposit ...”.
Under the “Features” tab was further text that stated, “Vehicle Summary Engine 999 cc Gears Manual Fuel Petrol MPG (Combined) 65.7 CO2 Emissions 99 g/km Road Tax Free Colour Choice of Colours Doors 5 Body Type Hatchback ...”.
Adjacent to this was text with a green tick that described the “Featured Specification” of the car and stated “... Delivery Mileage”.
Consumers could obtain further information about the car by completing an online form by clicking on the bar that stated “Enquire now” and could also find out which dealers were selling the car by clicking on the text that stated, “Branch Details: This car is available at Ford branches”.
The complainant, who understood that the ad was marketing a brand new car, challenged the availability of the vehicle because they were told that it was not available and were subsequently offered an alternative.
Arnold Clark provided sales data to the ASA for dates when the complainant had been searching for a new car (6–14 March 2015).
It stated that the data showed they had availability of the advertised vehicle, whereby units were sold below the “from” price at various branches.
Arnold Clark stated that although the text “Delivery Mileage” was made in error, the ad was nevertheless, shown on the used car section of the website.
Furthermore, it showed a saving against a “Cost New” car which they believed made sufficiently clear that the advertised car was not brand new.
A statement from the ASA said: “We acknowledged that the sales data Arnold Clark Automobiles provided showed that they had sold 43 Ford Fiestas with “Features” that matched those described in the ad.
“However, we noted that they were all used cars which came with mileage ranging between 1884 and 12,250 miles.
“We noted that, while it appeared in the “used car” section of the advertiser’s website, the ad also appeared when consumers performed a search of all stock.
"We understood that the savings claim for the advertised car was based on a comparison with its original price when sold as a brand new vehicle. However, we considered that the claims “Cost New £16,745” and “Save £3257 on Cost New” suggested that the advertised car was new or nearly new and that consumers would make the saving claimed if they purchased it.
“Furthermore, we noted that “Delivery Mileage” was listed as a “Featured Specification” in the ad, which also suggested that the advertised car was new.
“Therefore, because the evidence Arnold Clark Automobiles provided indicated that all of the cars sold at the stated price had significant mileage and were not new or nearly new, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”
The ASA ruled that future price statements from Arnold Clark “should not imply that the advertised cars were new or nearly new if this was not the case”.