Bike2Work scheme given ASA dressing down over misleading calculator

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against Bike2Work Scheme, a facilitator of the Government’s salary sacrifice scheme for bicycle purchases.

A complaint lodged against the business claimed that a savings calculator used by the firm made no reference to a final payment to be made in addition to the 12 monthly payments required to own the bicycle.

Bike2Work claimed that they supplied an abundance of information that the agreement was for hire only and did not automatically mean ownership. They further argued that the savings calculator was intended to provide an estimate of what was believed to be possible under the scheme.

The ASA saw things differently, however, ruling that there had not the firm had not implicitly made reference to the finer detail of the hire agreement.

The agency ruled:

The ASA acknowledged that there was no specific reference to employees owning a bike or equipment by taking part in the scheme. Neither, however, had there been any reference thus far to a bike or equipment being supplied on a hire basis. We considered that the reference to “partner stores”; the savings claim “Save up to 42% on the cost of bikes and equipment” (a reference to the purchase price) and the need to input the purchase price of the bike and equipment on the savings calculator, all contributed to the natural expectation that employees would own the items once they had made the last of the required payments. Instead, however, we understood that at the end of the hire period, an additional payment would be necessary if an employee wished to take over ownership of the bike or equipment.

We considered that the statement in the calculator “amounts may vary and further charges may apply” and the explanations in the FAQs and the hire agreement that a bike or equipment would be supplied on a hire basis were not sufficient to alter the impression created by the “Employee Information” page of the website, that participants in the scheme would own the bike at the end of the payment period. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).

The advert will now be banned from further use and the business has been asked to clarify its Employee Information material to clarify the hire and ownership reality.

The Cycle to Work market is undergoing numerous changes of late with new players entering the market and promising to re-invent the segment.