Last year the ASA resolved over 29,000 complaints relating to just under 16,000 adverts. The ASA is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising and is there to make sure that all advertisements across UK comply with the Advertising Codes. These Advertising Codes are written by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP).
Consumers can make a complaint with regards to an advert to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) if they believe the content to be in anyway misleading, untruthful, offensive or harmful. It doesn’t matter how minor the indiscretion.
Each week the ASA publish their rulings, detailing of formal investigations and decisions made with regards to whether they deem advertisers have broken the rules. They also publish a list of any companies or organisations who voluntarily withdraw or amended their adverts following a complaint or minor infraction which can be corrected or clarified so the consumer finds it easier to understand, these are called “informally resolved”.
There are many reports that more and more consumers feel dissatisfied. Almost all companies use some form of marketing and adverts are categorised as broadcast or non-broadcast. Broadcast ads are the commercials used on TV and radio and non-broadcast ads are seen in newspapers, magazines, billboards, online, etc.
Companies take proactive steps to ensure that their advertisements fall in line with the Advertising Codes before they get released, but even one consumer not fully understanding the advert can result in an investigation.
On the 15th November 2017, the ASA published their weekly rulings. This comprised of 20 Rulings and 46 Informally Resolved investigations. Amongst the 20 investigated rulings were six universities from across the UK, Plusnet (a regular TV advertiser) and the Royal Mail Group.
The published list of Informally Resolved investigations included well known and trustworthy companies: Amazon, B&Q, Holland & Barrett, Mothercare, Tesco and Telegraph Media Group.
Most of the investigations that were Informally Resolved were instigated due to only one complaint, but unfortunately as they are now on public record it is a slight against the company. There is always the possibility that a company’s competitor may use this information against them in a damaging way, or even be the complainer reporting them.
Tesco alone have 28 Rulings and 83 Informally Resolved cases listed on the ASA’s website. These companies don’t deliberately create adverts to mislead the consumer, but in today’s world, where the customer is always right, even high profile, credible companies are easy targets. The information above relating to the ASA is a perfect example of how consumers are being protected, but this type of complaints driven economy isn’t sustainable long term.
This certainly works in favour for people seeking to make legitimate timeshare compensation claims or looking to exit their timeshare, but it is open to abuse with consumers now falsely claiming for holiday sickness and defrauding genuine companies for their own gain. The definition of compensation is something, typically money, awarded to someone in recognition of loss, suffering, or injury. This seems to have been lost and this consumer lead culture puts an enormous strain on the government and genuine companies dealing with consumers that haven’t done anything to repent for. If you have a genuine complain and feel you could be due compensation for your timeshare or membership, act now and contact the Timeshare Compensation team on 0800 046 5855 and there may well be a cut-off point set, as seen recently within the PPI industry.