Sunday, 2 January 2011

Up to half price

OK, I have seen adverts for sales that say "Up to half price" and I am not actually sure what they mean!

If they said "up to one third of the price" I would know they mean the price is at most one third of the normal price, i.e. at least two thirds off the normal price.

If they said "up to half off the price" or "up to 50% off [the price]" I would know they mean the price is at least half the normal price, i.e. some price the same as or more than half the normal price. Of course "up to anything off" could in fact be full normal price! Isn't "up to" a lovely phrase...

But what to they mean "up to half price"?

The examples they list on the advert are mostly just under half price, e.g. £299.99 instead of £599.99, so fit perfectly with "up to" meaning "less than or the same as" half the normal price.

But then one is £299.99 instead of £329.99, i.e. nearly 91% of the normal price. Well above half price.

So they have examples that are below half price and above half price. So whatever you think "up to half price" means, they are not actually doing what they say. Trading standards should stop this nonsense.

P.S. The example I am looking at is an Argos advert in a newspaper.


  1. Your first example is just 50% of the normal price and not really below it - the .99p is muddying the waters somewhat.

    I would read the adverts as being "up to half of the normal price discounted" , and I'm sure that's what they mean. The wording taken literally is a bit ambiguous I agree though.

  2. Caveat Emptor in all cases... particularly in sales and other promotions where the shops will often use legally allowable weasel words in small print to make the difference between the price "last week" and "this week" look much better than it is in reality.

    Example: I was looking at a game console before Christmas and it was x pounds. Today, I see that it's allegedly 20% off but it's actually the same prince in cash terms than it was before (but it was apparently on sale at a price 25% higher at 3 unnamed branches of the same store for a higher price that it was at this particular branch anyway).

    PS. What Argos actually want to say is up to 50% discount (the odd penny in £300 is allowable because we did away with halfpennies in 1984) but they probably can't because the great unwashed are incapable of working out percentages... most of them will think that prices are going to rise 2.5% because of the VAT rise, when the actual figure is nearer 2.1% (because it's 2.5 in 117.5 rise, not 2.5 in 100)

  3. To me, "up to half price" to unambiguous and means a discount of >=50% applied to the normal selling price.