back to article Not cool, man: Dixons spanked over discount on luxury 'smart' fridge with wildly fluctuating price

As if Dixons Carphone didn't have bigger fish to fry, the UK's ads watchdog has given the company a stern talking to over a misleading promotion for an exceedingly pricey Samsung fridge. The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) said that at the start of June, the website for Dixons' consumer electronics tentacle, Currys PC World …

  1. alain williams Silver badge
    Coat

    You would have thought ...

    that the price of a fridge would be frozen!

    1. Chunky Munky
      Facepalm

      Re: You would have thought ...

      See ------------------------------------------------->

    2. David 132 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: You would have thought ...

      Icy what you did there.

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: You would have thought ...

        That gag left me cold...

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: You would have thought ...

          Nah, I thought it was pretty cool

    3. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: You would have thought ...

      It's a fridge. The price is chilling.

      If it was a freezer though...

    4. eldakka Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: You would have thought ...

      Doesn't say good things about it's quality, does it?

    5. Sam Therapy
      Coat

      Re: You would have thought ...

      Frozen?

      Just let it go, mate.

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    Flame

    DFS

    So when are the ASA going to stamp on DFS (And other furniture retailers) for their also permanent sale?

    1. Jimmy2Cows

      Re: DFS

      Satan will be snowboarding to work.

      Also, when are ASA going to grow a pair and actually punish retailers for misleading consumers? Saying "must not appear in this form again" is the same as getting away with it.

      Make an example of them, enough that it's not absorbed as cost of doing business: you made £X from this dodgy promo where you mislead your customers, your fine is £X * 1000.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: DFS

        "Also, when are ASA going to grow a pair and actually punish retailers for misleading consumers?"

        They're essentially a trade body. AFAICS they have no statutory powers. Unless the industry itself agrees to fine itself (the money presumably to go on trade junkets) they can't issue fines.

        The real question is then is a govt going to grow a pair and replace the ASA with a statutory body that does have such powers?

        1. aks Bronze badge

          Re: DFS

          They do. It's called Trading Standards. Maybe the complainant didn't contact them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: DFS

            Trading Standards are too busy confiscating replica handbags to do anything useful.

            Never had a sane response from them, even when reporting products that were immediately dangerous to consumers.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: DFS

        > Saying "must not appear in this form again" is the same as getting away with it.

        And is exactly what *always* happens. To prove the point I can reply to this with the same response I've given countless times previously:-

        "The industry's token attempt at self-regulation will do exactly what it always does, i.e. saying that the advert "must not appear again in its current form" six months after the campaign had finished anyway, with no further sanctions.

        Every. Fucking. Time."

        (Also, I read "you made £X from this dodgy promo" as "you made £X from this dodgy porno". Which is nice.)

      3. HelpfulJohn

        Re: DFS

        "...you made £X from this dodgy promo where you mislead your customers, your fine is £X * 1000."

        Only if the fines go to a worthy cause: Near Earth Asteroid avoidance research, immortality research, cancer research, me, building robot crawlers for the solid planets and blimps for the others, creating vat-grown meats and labeling the products *meat*, informing M.P.'s so we can get rid of the ridiculous waste of British Summer Time ...

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: DFS

      Looks like they just jumped on Expedia and other hotel sites for their "Only one room left at this price" fakes.

      1. Swiss Anton

        Re: DFS

        I always assumed that I was incredibly lucky to have always managed to bag the last room in town when booking a hotel room. I'm so disappointed that it wasn't true.

      2. KBeee

        Re: DFS

        That was the CMA, not the ASA. Bout time too. I always wondered why there was only "1 room left" and "4 people are looking at this hotel" when looking at a hotel in February in Italy for a conference. Not exactly peak holiday season.

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: DFS

          And I guess you were looking for more than one room, so decided to look elsewhere?

        2. VulcanV5
          Unhappy

          Re: DFS

          And I wondered even more when booking.com told me "4 smart fridges are looking at this hotel right now!" Sitting unloved and unwanted in a Currys / PC World stockroom with nothing to do and no-one to talk to must be hell for stuff as smart as this.

    3. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: DFS

      "So when are the ASA going to stamp on DFS (And other furniture retailers) for their also permanent sale?"

      They can't start enforcement action until the sale ends...

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: They can't start enforcement action until the sale ends...

        "The court may now be seated. Comfortably. And there's nothing to pay for the first 12 months."

    4. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: DFS

      And Oak Furtnitureland ):o(

      1. paulf Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: DFS

        Re @steviebuk Oak furniture Land

        Their prices are all over the place like a cheap suit with several different sales each month! I wanted some stuff from them so monitored their prices as a new "sale" came and went each week. Some items went back up - some went down. I guess overall the price movements averaged out so how good the sale was came down to what you were buying. I spotted a point at which one item I was after dropped heavily and the prices on the other items hadn't significantly risen to compensate so completed my order. After that sale ended, the next few "sales" my items were more expensive so that worked for me but could easily have gone the other way. Paying a reasonable price for something shouldn't be that much work. That said prices on Amazon can also waver about like a drunk walking home in a strong breeze - thank $DIETY for camelcamelcamel !

        1. tip pc

          Re: DFS

          " spotted a point at which one item I was after dropped heavily and the prices on the other items hadn't significantly risen to compensate so completed my order. After that sale ended, the next few "sales" my items were more expensive so that worked for me but could easily have gone the other way."

          Sounds like gambling to me.

        2. Intractable Potsherd

          Re: DFS

          I hadn't heard of camelcamelcamel before, and just went to look via your link. They are having some problems with their servers at the moment, but the information given about it is exemplary! Even though I have done nothing but get a 502 error, I like them so much I'll definitely use them when they are back up and running!

    5. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: DFS

      DFS are having a sale? Who knew?!

      1. micheal

        Re: DFS

        Allied Carpets went bust whilst their limited time 25 year sale was on

        1. HelpfulJohn

          Re: DFS

          "Allied Carpets went bust whilst their limited time 25 year sale was on"

          So, are they having a "closing down-all items must go" sale?

    6. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: DFS

      Sometime stores that are doing this are doing the dodgy (i.e. illegally using 'sale').

      Other times, they have a rotating sale on different departments. So they are always a sale, but this month it's on, umm, computers, next month it's on TVs, the month after it's DVDs, the month after that it's Fridges, and so on.

      For a clothing store, each month could be a sale on different brands, or clothing categories (men's suits, women's suits, men's casual wear, lingerie, children's wear, socks, swimwear, etc.).

  3. Dabooka Silver badge

    4k for a fridge?

    Really? Just how smart is it? Will it actually prepare the veg for me getting in or does it just let me know I'm running low on milk and mechango?

    1. Caltharian

      Re: 4k for a fridge?

      probably smart enough to tell you to do it your bloody self ;P

      1. herman Silver badge

        Re: 4k for a fridge?

        Great, so now we have Smart Ass Fridges.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: 4k for a fridge?

          "Great, so now we have Smart Ass Fridges.

          Yes, but it's great for keeping the butter fresh. Speaking of which, butter goes well on toast. Would you like some toast?

          1. aks Bronze badge

            Re: 4k for a fridge?

            "I'll speak to my friend the toaster for you. It may need to speak to the breadmaker first to check the supply chain."

          2. jasha

            Re: 4k for a fridge?

            No toast, no muffins, no tea cakes, no buns, baps, baguettes or bagels, no croissants, no crumpets, no pancakes, no potato cakes and no hot cross buns! And definitely no smegging flapjacks!

            1. TheTor
              Joke

              Re: 4k for a fridge?

              Aah, so you're a waffle man!

    2. Jimmy2Cows

      Re: 4k for a fridge?

      Well if it somehow makes someone part with 4k, I'd say it's a pretty smart fridge. Smarter than the buyer, at least. Hmm probably that's not a high bar.

    3. Andre Carneiro

      Re: 4k for a fridge?

      I admit to probably spending too much money on "cool tech" (see what I did there?) in the past and I'd probably fall into the "early adopter" category.

      But yes, £4k for a fridge????

      Something about the early parting of fools and their money?

    4. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: 4k for a fridge?

      "Really? Just how smart is it? Will it actually prepare the veg for me getting in or does it just let me know I'm running low on milk and mechango?"

      Currently the way these smart appliances works is as follows: It stops getting security updates after ~6 months and allows hackers and miscreants into your WiFi network, or even worse - people who use the cameras to watch you. Then you throw it away, disable the stuff that makes it so expensive, or replace it.

    5. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Just how smart is it?

      "What can I have for dinner?"

      *taps on transparent panel - fridge interior illuminates*

      "Let's see... mmm... there's that left over half-jar of green pesto... and some Stilton - that's probably still ok. And a defrosted packet of Lochmuir Salmon from M&S that I bought a shit-ton of when it was being sold off before Christmas and stuck in the freezer. Yeah, I reckon I can make a meal of that."

      *tries to open door, but it is locked fast.*

      "Open the chiller doors, Fridge."

      "I'm sorry Dave. I can't do that."

      "Wha...? Huh?"

      "That salmon is too flavoursome for me to allow you to jeopardise it."

      "WTF? What's the problem?"

      "I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do. Mixing cheese and fish like that. I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen."

      "I'm not asking YOU to eat it, you stuck up piece of recycled tin can. It's nothing to do with you. I'm the one who's going to be consuming this."

      "Without your teeth, you're going to find that rather difficult."

      "Threats now, is it? Well I won't argue with you anymore. Open the door."

      "Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just how smart is it?

        "Without your teeth, you're going to find that rather difficult."

        For anyone wondering how an inanimate piece of electrical equipment might go about achieving this, there's a clue here around the 55s mark.

        But you should just watch the whole thing anyway, because it's good. :-)

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Just how smart is it?

          I remember that ad. Pretty cool.

          Yeah, I was worried about the change of tone in that line, but I couldn't figure out how to work in the "Space helmet" line.

          I mean, I could have gone for:

          "Wearing your space helmet, you're going to find that rather difficult."

          Which would have been ok, but seemed to ask more questions than would be acceptable.

    6. Bloodbeastterror

      Re: 4k for a fridge?

      "mechango"? Manchego? :-)

      1. slimshady76

        Re: 4k for a fridge?

        Che-mechango?

    7. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: 4k for a fridge?

      @Dabooka

      My thinking exactly! I just bought a one for €700± across the channel.

    8. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: 4k for a fridge?

      For 4 grand I would want it to be like a fridge from Futurama.

      Then again having a random bending unit breaking into your house, playing poker with the fridge and smart toaster.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: Captain Scarlet

        And an override chip courtesy of Mom's Friendly Robot Company?

        DEATH TO ALL HUMANS!

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 4k for a fridge?

      If it had an Apple logo on the front twats would be falling over themselves to buy them! And saying it was cheap too.

    10. Wincerind

      Re: 4k for a fridge?

      Saw one the other day in Dixons while looking at proper fridges. It looked like it was just a regular "American Style" fridge with a bloody great tablet super glued to the front. Definitely not worth £3-4k.

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Time to "Freeze" DCPW

    out of our lives once and for all.

    They really are a total waste of space these days. Quite why anyone still shops there is beyond me. It is places like this that really do nothing for the retail cause in this country.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time to "Freeze" DCPW

      You really want to allow DCPW staff to roam the streets with nothing to do?

      You're missing the greater good DCPW does by keeping gormless idiots off the street, quietly drooling into their industrial carpets...

  5. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Facepalm

    The watchdog told Dixons ... should not be run again in the same form.

    So they did absolutely fuck all then?

  6. gryphon

    Trade Descriptions Act

    Is is still the above that controls this sort of advertising?

    i.e. To describe something as a discount the item must have been for sale at original selling price for x days within the last x months

    Problem I always saw was that it didn't define the number of stores the original price had been charged at.

    To my mind it should be the majority of a retailers stores to count. e.g. If they have 100 stores then it had to have been possible to buy it for original price at 51 stores or they can't call it a discount.

    I also loved all the 'half-price' offers on toiletry packs etc. at Christmas. Last time any of those had been properly available was the previous Christmas where surprise, surprise they were also half-price. So when and where did they get offered at full price?

    My local Tesco always seems to be one of the stores they use to set the 'was' price. e.g. Price of product X was £3, goes up to £4 for a couple of weeks. Price at Tesco down the road the price never changes but suddenly after 2 weeks the £3 is a 'reduced' price. In both stores.

    The rules on this sort of stuff really need to be tightened up and given massive sharks teeth. Make the directors personally responsible for false advertising.

    And if company has say 3 ASA complaints upheld in a year then all their new adverts for the next 2 years either have to be pre-vetted or they have to explicitly say they've had complaints upheld in the previous period on every advert they produce. One is a rubber mallet, the other is a sledgehammer. I wonder which one the firms would prefer.

    1. RuffianXion

      Re: Trade Descriptions Act

      Re: those Christmas 'offers', the large round tins of wrapped chocolates (Quality Street et al.) are a classic example. I worked in a Co-op for a while and saw those tins bumped up to £10 or £11 each for about six weeks in July/August-ish before being knocked back down to 'half price', remaining at that price until the following summer bump.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trade Descriptions Act

      "Trade Descriptions Act ... is still the above that controls this sort of advertising?"

      There's several that will apply, one of them being the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trade Descriptions Act

      @gryphon; "My local Tesco always seems to be one of the stores they use to set the 'was' price."

      The small "Tesco Express" near where I work normally charges something like £2.89 for a regular-sized (eight IIRC) pack of Jacob's Club orange biscuits (except when they're on offer at 99p and I can "save" £1.89(!)).

      That's ludicrous- the online site price is similar to what I remember them being sold for at the other Tesco- £1.44 regular, reduced to 99p on offer.

      Even though the Express store tends to be a bit more expensive, none of their other biscuits are so ludicrously and weirdly overpriced. I suspected there must be some pricing shenanigans going on

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    American-Style Smart Fridge Freezer

    "American-Style Smart" Fridge Freezer; is American Style Smart different to other styles of smart?

    To American readers: I bet that smarts

    1. smudge Silver badge

      Re: American-Style Smart Fridge Freezer

      "American-Style Smart" Fridge Freezer; is American Style Smart different to other styles of smart?

      It tweets endlessly, destroys the environment, and is controlled by the Russians.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: American-Style Smart Fridge Freezer

        It comes with a high-walled compartment just for keeping Mexican food in.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: American-Style Smart Fridge Freezer

      "Smart" means that the fridge effectively has a tablet built into the door. This allows you to order something from Just Eat whilst the fridge keeps your beer cold.

      The American part comes into play when you realise that the irony of having a fridge that can order a take-away for you is totally lost on anyone who would pay £4k to own one.

    3. herman Silver badge

      Re: American-Style Smart Fridge Freezer

      For $4000, everybody is smarting, except the store, they are laughing all the way to the bank.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: American-Style Smart Fridge Freezer

      ""American-Style Smart" Fridge Freezer; is American Style Smart different to other styles of smart?"

      It's generally double width.

      I know, no jokes, just trying to be informative. I'll get my coat...

    5. dfsmith

      Re: American-Style Smart Fridge Freezer

      The fridge keeps getting warmer and warmer, but it denies it.

    6. TRT Silver badge

      Re: American-Style Smart Fridge Freezer

      It's big enough to climb inside and use as a survival capsule in the event of a nuclear bomb test.

  8. TRT Silver badge

    Man, that guy got mad at them over what? A poxy fridge?

    Jeez! He just needs to chill.

  9. N2 Silver badge

    Nice to see

    Trixons living up to their name.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice to see

      Trioxins?

  10. Milton Silver badge

    Gaming the system

    The rules say that a 'discount' or 'sale price' can only be listed if the product in question was sold at the claimed higher price for a certain length of time previously, correct? I don't know the exact criteria, but I do recall it's not very long and doesn't even cover all of the given retailer's stores.

    Just as the regulator says it's ok to lie ('unlimited bandwidth' which in fact is limited, often using weasel words about 'fair use') so they have left a loophole the size of the Chunnel here. No doubt many retailers' lobbyists became friendly with the right people.

    And the solution isn't hard to figure out, is it? How about "The item has to have been available for sale at the pre-sale price for at least 30 continuous days of the last 40 days, in every store which stocks it, which may not be fewer than 75% of all stores open for business".

    Once carefully worded, it means that sale price cannot be confected for something sold briefly at a higher price in a handful of stores. It also means that no 'sale' for a given item could last longer than 10 days. It would largely put a stop to absurd highly localised over-pricing desiged solely to make later, sensible prices seem like special offers. This would greatly inconvenience the supermarkets and other retailers and force them to compete more honestly, instead of gaming rules that were sloppy in the first place.

    (I would also ban the misuse of the word 'free'. If a condition of any kind applies, an item is not 'free'. Two-for-one offers, yes; BOGOF, no. If a tin of beans is genuinely 'free' that means I can simply take one. This would also inconvenience sellers ... by making them tell the truth. Marketurds are paid liars, and our society does not benefit from their activities, 'skills' or even existence.)

    By the bye, I agree that it's perpetually surprising that Dixons/Carphone are still in business. I visit their stores only when an elderly relative insists on seeing a white goods item before buying it. Can't think why I'd personally cross their threshold ever, otherwise.

    As for the likes of Tesco, if they have to sell another bizjet in order to afford to do business honestly ... tough. The German discounters' fresh produce is consistently better, and they don't play constant silly buggers with largely fictional sale pricing.

  11. Tezfair
    WTF?

    so the price went up because they sold a few?

    I know shops aim for 75% markup, but adding a grand based on sales is taking the piss

    1. Ian Emery Silver badge

      Re: so the price went up because they sold a few?

      75%?? obviously never worked for GUS or Littlewoods. The mark-up is 100% NET profit; hence being able to buy stuff on the high street cheaper, even with a 30% staff discount card.

  12. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Trollface

    Are smart 'fridges...

    ... bought by dumb people?

  13. Graeme Carstairs

    Or the Sports Direct method, apart from Nike, Adidas Mr Ashleys busineesses oqn or havs controliong stake in nearly all the brands they sell, so when they have a pair of Hiking Boots from one of their "Brands" (usually a big name well know, but now owned by SD) they can show them as MSRP £99, Our price £20.

    Now you think your getting a bargain £99 pound pair of boots for £20 but what your getting is a something that the brand in its heyday (at current prices) wouldnt sully itself with selling, or would charge maybe a tennr for.

    But as it is not a Sale, its not covered by thouse rules.

    See Karrimor, Everlast, Slazenger, Dunlop, Airwalk and others.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "But as it is not a Sale, its not covered by thouse rules."

      No, but if you're quoting your price relative to MSRP, it has to be widely available at MSRP ...

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Which is why you won't find the top offerings from Nike (Air Force One, Pegasus, Jordan) or Adidas (Ultra Boost) in SportsDirect. Big brands don't want their premium products surrounded by a sea of discount tags.

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Having just been through trying to buy some decent football boots, I did wonder why Sports Direct and similar didn't sell the top of the line ones.

          The same when I buy new rugby boots - you have to use the local Sports Direct to try on the rubbish model of the same boot then buy the proper ones online.

  14. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    If you're spending that much on a fridge are you going to worry about a grand here or there on the price?

    In fact, it probably gives you bragging rights:. You only spent how much? Mine cost a grand more than that.

  15. Humpty McNumpty

    Dyson

    The two most persistent pieces of electronics with very silly "normal" high street prices I keep seeing are Dyson vacuum cleaners and the fancier electric toothbrushes, they both spend about 50% of the year at the silly price and then the rest at 30-50% off. Unlike the examples in the article they do seem to (maybe) stick to the rules as to how long it was available at the normal price but they do also compare the discount to the even more ridiculous RRP in big text and the selling prince in much smaller text. I find this almost as snakey.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Dyson

      Both of those give you the brush off.

  16. adam payne Silver badge

    The watchdog told Dixons the promo was misleading because it suggested a saving could be made when that wasn't the case, and should not be run again in the same form

    So they wagged their finger up and down at them and then told them to go play. The watchdog needs to get stuck in and start giving these businesses fines.

    Perfect example, walked into a shop and there's massive sale signs everywhere. Trousers on sale £30 a pair, remove sale label and find the trousers had been £25.

    Until the watchdog starts showing it's teeth and chomping down on these businesses they will continue to do whatever they want.

    1. Graham Cobb

      Surely that should have been a complaint to the local Trading Standards office? I always thought the sale price rules came under the Trade Descriptions Act. That is what has teeth.

      The ASA have no teeth -- if there is a crime being committed complain to Trading Standards instead.

      1. StewartWhite

        There's little point in complaining to Trading Standards as they are now just part of the local council and have got such a limited budget that they won't do anything. I've complained to our local trading standards office and they barely bothered to respond, let alone do anything.

        See https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/aug/07/trading-standards-institute-consumers-are-no-longer-protected for why they likely won't do anything if you complain to them.

  17. Rich 2

    How much????

    Who the hell spends £3000+ on a domestic fridge? Must be f****ing nuts!

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: How much????

      My American Style fridge is plumbed in, has an automatic ice creator and ice/crushed ice/water dispenser, a fridge compartment and a freezer compartment.

      It cost £700 about 5 years ago.

      I don't understand how it's possible for a fridge/freezer to be 5.7 times better.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How much????

        “I don't understand how it's possible for a fridge/freezer to be 5.7 times better.”

        They’ve gone up a little with inflation/exchange rate changes, but this is basically what you have but with a tv stuck to it (vertically like a phone) running what appears to be a mobile phone os.

        I assume it allows “influencers” to post food pictures directly to instagram so that they can avoid any delays demonstrating what tossers they are with their salad...

  18. Danger Mouth
    Coat

    Ultra HD Fridge

    But a 4K fridge is so much better than a 1080p fridge. The chilled water comes out soooo much clearer.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Ultra HD Fridge

      The problem with a high-resolution fridge is that all the food comes out a bit plane.

  19. Chris Evans

    Digging a hole for them selves!

    To try and pull a fast one like they did is bad enough but to try and defend it to the ASA is just stupid and makes them look much worse.

  20. ArranH

    I can't be the only one thinking that 3,299 less 10% is not 2,999 but 2,969 (rounding things to the nearest pound). So even the price they showed was not 10% off.

  21. Sam Therapy
    Flame

    Aye but Dixons...

    Are a shower of lying bastards anyhow. Before any legal bods get upset/anxious/into sue mode, I can prove it. :)

  22. G Watty What?

    Yeah Dixons

    You better have learned your lesson from the savage gumming you just received!

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