ASA Non-broadcast Adjudication: Marianne de Bonneville
Marianne de Bonneville
3 Millers Close
6 February 2002
Bristol, Hertfordshire, Sheffield, Surrey, West Sussex
Objection to a four-page direct mailing for a psychic report, that claimed "Marianne de Bonneville. Strictly Confidential Psychic Report: What you are about to read in this document will amaze you ... and if you follow my advice XXX your life may be transformed! ... Please do not ignore this letter ... It is no accident that I write to you today ... you have been specially selected ... you must forgive me writing to you now without prior introduction, but I am compelled to contact you! I am a professional psychic and astrologer with over 30 years of experience ... I am writing to you now, to tell you - that a spell of unprecedented cosmic good fortune is awaiting you - and it is going to be here in less that 67 days!!! ... I am also a highly-regarded psychic and can list celebrities, business tycoons and even royalty among my clients! ... So many of my clients are rich and successful, it is a pleasure for me to help someone who has had a rough ride in life so far ... Almost all my clients are rich and famous. My advice has helped them achieve these goals ... it is not often I take up the case of a complete stranger. But on those rare occasions when I have, their good fortune has given me a great deal of satisfaction. Here are a few examples of people like you, who have acted upon my advice: "Thank you Marianne, I used the lucky numbers you gave me on my weekly lottery ticket, and won £200,000!" Sarah T, Leeds. "I knew in advance when my lucky day was so I asked for a pay rise on the right day. I got more than that - I got a big promotion and a company car!" Steve B, Bradford. "I launched my new business on the day you advised, and it's been a howling success! Thank you Marianne!" Carl F, London. About 12 years ago I was able to offer advice to a man from Scotland ... and made him three very special promises: 1. He would become wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. 2. He would find true love. 3. He would achieve his fondest ambitions. Well to make a long story short, this man was wise enough to heed my advice, and today owns a thriving business, founded with an astonishing lottery win. What's more, he has married a wonderful woman and is the father of three healthy children ... If you follow my advice carefully, I am prepared to GUARANTEE that you will receive an enormous amount of money ... I realise that what I am revealing to you must seem incredible! You have never met me ... But I will send you your lucky date and your lucky numbers - FREE! This means that you are receiving information that would normally command a minimum fee of £500! All I am asking is that you return the enclosed confirmation form and a small handling charge ... I have decided to waive my fees completely in your case. I know that you cannot afford to pay my normal fee, and I also know you are someone who can ill afford to pass up the opportunity to gain a huge sum of money! ... Remember: I will not charge my normal fee of £500 for this extensive report ... ". The form stated "CLAIM AND ID FORM for XXX ... I understand that Marianne has waived her normal client fees, and I will pay only a small handling charge of £20.00. This charge is fully refundable if I do not win a substantial amount of money within 12 months."
The complainants challenged whether:
1. the claims made were true; and
2. the money-back guarantee was genuine.
The Authority challenged:
3. the veracity of the testimonials; and
4. whether the mailing was likely to exploit and mislead vulnerable recipients.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
The advertisers did not respond. The Authority was concerned by the advertisers' lack of response, which it considered a breach of the Codes. The Authority reminded the advertisers of their responsibility to respond to its enquiries and asked them to do so promptly in future. Because they had not substantiated the advertised claims and shown that the testimonials were genuine, the Authority told the advertisers to withdraw the mailing. The Authority was concerned that the mailing could exploit the vulnerable. It asked the Committee of Advertising Practice to inform its members of the problem with the advertisers.