ASA Non-broadcast Adjudication: Pundit Maharaj
40 Bridge Street Row
13 March 2002
Hampshire, West Yorkshire
Objections to two ethnic press advertisements, for a spiritual healer, headlined "PUNDIT MAHARAJ". One advertisement claimed "100% GUARANTEED RESULTS ... SUCCESSFULLY HELPING DESPERATE PEOPLE FOR THE LAST 48 YEARS ... IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM THAT HAS NOT BEEN SOLVED BY ANYONE IN THIS WORLD AND THINK THAT YOUR PROBLEM IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SOLVE AND YOU ARE FULLY DISHEARTENED ... RING PUNDIT MAHARAJ IMMEDIATELY ... ALL YOUR PROBLEMS WILL BE SOLVED FOREVER AND ALL YOUR WISHES WILL BE FULFILLED IN SEVEN DAYS GUARANTEED ... BUSINESS & FINANCIAL PROBLEMS, CAREER, DEPRESSION, SEPARATED FROM THE PERSON YOU LOVE, DOMESTIC PROBLEMS REGARDING HUSBAND, WIFE OR CHILDREN, HEALTH, EXAMS, STUDIES OR ANY OTHER PROBLEM AT ALL ... PUNDIT JEE WILL SOLVE YOUR PROBLEMS 100% GUARANTEED TO YOUR SATISFACTION ... GUARANTEE TO BREAK BLACK MAGIC & EVIL SPIRITS IN 72 HOURS ... PUNDIT MAHARAJ WILL REMOVE ALL KINDS OF BLACK MAGIC & EVIL SPIRITS BY HIS JANTRA'S TAVIJ, MANTRAS & TALISMANS WHICH ARE PREPARED BY WORSHIP AND SPIRITUAL POWERS TO REMOVE ALL PROBLEMS FOREVER ... ". Another, two-page, advertisement, was similarly worded and added "BLACK MAGIC, EVIL SPIRITS, AND THE INFLUENCE OF PLANETS ... CAN cause a weak memory and lack of concentration ... HOW ABOUT YOUR CHILD? Lacking in concentration? Lacking in memory? THEREFORE Poor grades? Disobedient? Behaviour problems? ...". The complainants:
1. questioned the advertiser's claims and ability to fulfil the guarantees; and
2. objected that the advertisement could mislead and exploit vulnerable people.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
The advertiser asserted that he had been a clairvoyant for many years. He sent copies of six letters from satisfied clients or from clients who had paid for his services; three quoted dates between 15 September and 10 October 2001 and three were undated; two quoted addresses outside the U K; four gave no address. The advertiser argued that his clients' satisfaction was subjective and difficult to prove and neither complainant was a dissatisfied client. He nevertheless offered to review the reference to the 100% guarantee. The Authority noted the advertiser sent no evidence to show that he guaranteed his services or that he refunded dissatisfied clients. The Authority considered that he had not substantiated the claim that he guaranteed unconditionally to resolve all a client's difficulties and problems. It also considered that the implication that he did so could mislead and exploit vulnerable people. The Authority asked the advertiser to remove that misleading implication and all references to guarantees from his future advertisements. It advised him to consult the Committee of Advertising Practice Copy Advice team before advertising again.