BOXT: ‘next day delivery’ and comparative pricing claims
How careful do you need to be with “next day delivery” claims? And is one product comparison enough when making a price comparison claim?
The key takeaway
Clear disclaimers containing cut off times are key for making next day delivery claims, as is the need to prove you can meet demand for next day deliveries. When making price comparisons with a competitor, sufficient information must be provided to substantiate the comparison claim – simply providing one example of the same appliance sold by two companies may well not be regarded as sufficient for the claim.
A video on YouTube and a TV ad for heating company BOXT Ltd (BOXT), seen in October and November 2019 featured a voiceover which stated, “Listen up, if you’re thinking of replacing your boiler with British Gas, you might want to come a bit closer. BOXT can install your boiler the next day and a boiler from BOXT costs on average … actually you may want to turn the sound up too … £1217 less than the same one from British Gas. BOXT are also rated Britain’s number one heating company on Trustpilot. So don’t buy a new boiler from anyone else until you’ve checked BOXT, you’d be a fool to yourselves. BOXT, faster, cheaper, trustier”.
British Gas challenged whether the following claims in the ads were misleading and could be substantiated:
1. “BOXT can install your boiler the next day”, and
2. “a boiler from BOXT costs on average… £1217 less than the same one from British Gas”.
A member of the public challenged:
3. whether the claim “BOXT are also rated Britain’s number one heating company on Trustpilot” misleadingly implied a comparison against British Gas, who they believed were categorised differently from BOXT on Trustpilot.
Next day claim
BOXT said that they guaranteed next day installation if the purchase took place before the cut-off point of 3pm and showed a footer on the home page of their website which stated “Buy online by 3pm and get it fitted the next day”. They also stated that customers were able to choose the installation date which suited them. BOXT stated if their website showed no availability for next day installation on a particular day, customers were provided with a telephone number to call them, as they had a number of engineers on standby to ensure customers received next day installation.
BOXT said that if a customer wanted a specific date and they had capability in a different area, they may still fit on the date the customer wanted if they contacted them by telephone or live chat. They provided a spreadsheet which they said showed the number of customers who received next day installation between October 2019 and January 2020.
Clearcast supported this stating that the ad included a qualifying disclaimer which stated “when you buy before 3pm”. They said that they also asked for evidence to show that British Gas did not offer next-day delivery and for BOXT to confirm that they would continue to monitor the situation. Should that change, Clearcast said the ad would be pulled from air.
£1,217 savings claim
BOXT provided a spreadsheet they believe demonstrated an average saving of £1,217.73 after commissioning a third party to carry out market research to compare pricing and customer experience regarding the replacement of a new like-for-like boiler including installation. The exercise was conducted on Worcester branded boilers because they were the leading boiler brand for both BOXT and British Gas and were therefore representative of those available. BOXT said both of the boilers shown on screen while the savings claim was being made were Worcester branded boilers and the claim stated “BOXT £1217 LESS ON AVERAGE”. BOXT believed consumers would therefore understand the basis of the comparison was with Worcester boilers from British Gas and that they would save more on some models than others.
Clearcast said they were told that the base rates for all of the boilers compared were supplied for both BOXT and British Gas, and based on the information provided the average savings claim was approved.
Comparison claim with British Gas
BOXT said British Gas were not cited in the ad at the point at which the Trustpilot rating was mentioned. They said that there was a distinct pause and change in the creative after the comparative savings claim and that they believed consumers would see the statement as a fact and not a comparison. BOXT said the phrase “so don’t buy a new boiler from anyone else until you’ve checked BOXT” was merely a call to action asking consumers to check with BOXT before buying a new boiler and clearly stated “anyone else”, not British Gas. BOXT said they were still rated as number one in the category “gas installation” which the two companies had in common on Trustpilot, and therefore felt the ad was not misleading. They said that consumers were directed to Trustpilot and were therefore capable of verifying the information themselves.
Clearcast said they did not believe the claim implied a comparison between BOXT and British Gas, and at no point did the ad compare the two companies’ ratings on Trustpilot, and the use of the word “also” helped to separate the claim from the previous comparisons.
Next day claim
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the claim “BOXT can install your boiler the next day”, and the accompanying super-imposed text which stated “when you buy before 3pm”, that if they purchased a new boiler before 3pm, they could choose to have the boiler installed on the next day. The ASA assessed the evidence by BOXT and understood that while next-day installation was subject to availability, the evidence demonstrated that BOXT had sufficient measures and personnel in place to ensure that those consumers who chose next day installation were given it. The ASA recognised that the next-day installation data over the period in question, October 2019 to January 2020, showed that few customers actually took up the offer of next-day installation. However, the price of installation generally decreased the further in advance it was booked, so understood the lower take up was not as a result of availability issues. The ASA therefore concluded that the claim “BOXT can install your boiler the next day” had been substantiated and was therefore not likely to mislead.
£1217 savings claim
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the claim “a boiler from BOXT costs on average … £1217 less than the same one from British Gas” that based on BOXT’s average boiler prices, customers could save around £1,217 on their chosen boiler in comparison to the price that British Gas sold that same boiler. The ad provided no additional information on the basis of the comparison, and the ASA therefore expected BOXT to hold evidence which demonstrated that such a level of saving could be achieved, taking account of the wide variety of boiler types and brands available on the market. The ASA assessed the information provided, which comprised a list of comparisons between quotes obtained from BOXT and British Gas for Worcester Bosch boilers. While the spreadsheet demonstrated that quotes were obtained for different types of Worcester Bosch boilers, the ASA understood that there were many other boiler brands on the market that had not been included in the comparison and which were available through British Gas. The ASA acknowledged that although BOXT’s comment that Worcester Bosch were the leading brand on the market, the claim in the ad referred to those boilers available through British Gas, and the ASA therefore considered that the evidence was insufficient to support the claim. As such, the ASA considered that it had not been demonstrated that a boiler from BOXT was on average £1,217.73 less than the same one from British Gas and therefore concluded that the claim was misleading.
Comparison claim with British Gas
The ASA noted the claim “BOXT are also Britain’s number one heating company on Trustpilot” in the ad followed the comparisons with British Gas. However, there was no reference to British Gas by the voiceover or the visuals at the point the claim was made. Given the addition of the word “also”, the ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim as separate to the comparative claims made against British Gas earlier in the ad, and would interpret it as a factual statement about BOXT’s Trustpilot rating. As BOXT were the top-rated company under the category of “Heating service” on Trustpilot, the ASA concluded that the claim was not misleading.
Why is this important?
The ruling demonstrates the importance of holding substantive and supportive evidence in “comparison with identifiable competitors” claims. The ruling further demonstrates the fine-line between compliance and breach – by using the word “also”, it can separate and differentiate different claims so that each is assessed individually.
Any practical tips?
Don’t forget the importance of disclaimers and cut off times in “next day delivery” claims. Remember you also need sufficient evidence to show that you have measures in place to support your delivery claims. On comparative claims, be careful to ensure that you hold full substantiation for the breadth of any claim you are making.