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Ocado rapped by ASA over Tesco price matching claims

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In a ruling that highlights the difficulty of accurately monitoring price matching on the web, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled against Ocado for national press and email advertisements it ran last year that claimed it matched Tesco’s prices.

The ASA investigated after Tesco challenged the claim, saying its own monitoring had shown that Ocado was more expensive than Tesco for 601 products in a sample of 3,811.

In its ruling on the matter, the ASA details Ocado’s response and its explanation of how it monitored Tesco’s prices but concludes that “at the time the ads appeared, because a significant number of products had been omitted, Ocado’s price match claim had not been substantiated.”

The ASA therefore ruled that “the ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Ocado not to make the price match claim again until they had addressed the factors which had caused them to fail to price match a large number of items when the price match policy was launched.”

Ocado has been quick to point out, however, that the adverts referred to in the ASA ruling are from last year, in the early days of its price match guarantee, and that it is now using a different system for tracking prices.

“Ocado is matching and will continue to match Tesco prices,” Ocado told Internet Retailing. “The ASA ruling is in response to just two specific adverts from March 2008, when Ocado’s Tesco Price Match policy was first launched and we used an older system of comparison. It is important to point out that the guarantee has been running on a new and fully reliable system for over a year now — helping countless customers slash their bills during the downturn. We’re glad of the opportunity, in fact, to tell shoppers that Ocado is matching more products than ever before and delivering even better value.”

The adjudication is available to read in full on the ASA’s website and is well worth a read by anyone considering a price matching campaign.

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