In September 2020, Maple Syrup Media (t/a Quidco) placed ads on a website and Facebook page which offered cashback to members on purchases made from third-party retailers.
Quidco rival Topcashback challenged Quidco’s claims, raising the issue that the claims were both unverifiable and misleading, and could be substantiated.
The home page of the advertiser’s website (www.quidco.com) was titled “Get cashback on your purchases”. Further down the page, a section titled: “Get cashback every time you purchase” included the text “Quidco, the UK’s highest paying cashback site, helps you earn whenever you shop online”. On the ‘Home’ page of the advertiser’s Facebook page, text in a box titled ‘About’ included “Quidco is the UK’s highest paying cashback service”.
In its response, Maple Syrup Media Ltd (t/a Quidco) said that the claims related to a guarantee that they would pay the highest cashback to their members, compared to other cashback services in the UK.
Quidco provided a link to a page on its website which described the “Highest Cashback Guarantee”. It stated that in instances where members who had made a purchase and found a higher applicable cashback rate offered by any other UK cashback site, Quidco would match the higher rate, plus an additional amount on top.
The ASA said it understood that Quidco tracked the purchases of members who visited eligible third-party retailer online stores via the Quidco website. Once the retailer confirmed the purchase, Quidco paid cashback to the member. The amount of cashback was calculated as a percentage of the total purchase price; the percentage rate varied between retailers and was higher for Quidco ‘Premium’ members.
In that context, the ASA decided that consumers would understand the claim “the UK’s highest paying cashback site” and “the UK’s highest paying cashback service” to mean that Quidco always had a higher percentage cashback rate for its members than that offered by its competitors.
The ASA’s CAP Code requires that comparisons with identifiable competitors must be verifiable. However, the Quidco ads did not make reference to this, nor did they direct consumers to where they could find further information about the basis of the claim.
Quidco did also not hold evidence that it always paid a higher amount of cashback compared to its competitors as the claims implied, it therefore did not make information available to consumers to check the claims were accurate. For those reasons, the ASA concluded the “UK’s highest paying cashback” claims were not verifiable and as such breached the CAP Code.
Maple Syrup Ltd (t/a Quidco) were told not to make the claim “UK’s highest paying cashback website/service”, or similar claims that would be interpreted by consumers in the same way, unless they were regularly monitoring their competitors’ cashback rates and updating their own rates accordingly.
They were also told to ensure that their ads included, or directed consumers to, sufficient information that they could verify such claims against identifiable competitors.