Discount on EVERYTHING!*

“Up to 30% discount on everything*”, “DISCOUNT ON THE ENTIRE SITE*, be quick!”. They are familiar slogans on websites, in mailboxes and on leaflets. Does the use of the words “everything” and “ENTIRE” mean that there is actually a discount on everything, or is it still possible to make exceptions? The Advertising Code Committee (RCC) ruled that this is possible as long as these exceptions are indicated in an adequate, unambiguous manner.

The decision of the RCC was based on a complaint about a Groupon advertisement distributed by e-mail. It said “Salary is here – up to 30% EXTRA discount on the entire Groupon store, be quick” and “ENDS TOMORROW SALE ON THE ENTIRE GROUPON STORE Up to 30% discount on everything”. It was then stated at the bottom of the page that the promotion entailed a 5% to 30% discount on Local Hotels & Travel, that the discount was valid for 3 deals, that the maximum discount was €20 per deal and that some deals were excluded. Not as much discount as you would expect when a discount on everything is promised. Therefore a complaint was submitted against the advertisement because, according to the complainant, Groupon constantly communicates that the discount applies to the ‘entire Groupon store’, however, when push comes to shove, several deals are excluded.

Groupon defends itself by stating that the statement says “up to 30% discount”, which therefore also includes a 0% discount. That defence (fortunately) does not succeed. Secondly, Groupon says that at the bottom of each mailing the exceptions to the promotion are indicated. Nevertheless, in the future, Groupon will add an asterisk that refers to the exceptions to “entire” and “everything”.

The RCC starts by stating that when an advertiser uses absolute words such as “entire” and “everything”, he must adequately and unambiguously indicate the exceptions. Having said that, the RCC agrees with the addition of the asterisk by Groupon and only recommends that Groupon should no longer advertise in such a way to the extent necessary. The moral of the story: don’t hesitate to give a discount on “everything”, but – unless you are having a sale for your entire website – be clear about exceptions!

Mathijs Peijnenburg – advertising lawyer

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