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ASA Adjudication on Hearing Information Services Ltd

Hearing Information Services Ltd

c/o Mitchell Charlesworth
24 Nicolas Street
Chester
CH1 2AU

Date:

1 December 2010

Media:

Circular

Sector:

Health and beauty

Number of complaints:

1

Complaint Ref:

137463

Ad

A circular for the Hearing Information Service (HIS) was headed, "Join The Hearing Aid Debate ... NHS or Private? We'll Help You Decide". The ad said that they offered free advice about hearing aids and "specifically whether it is better to go through the NHS or a private consultant". It also offered two free guides, one of which was titled "The Consumer Guide NHS or Private Digital Hearing Aids".

Issue

A complainant challenged whether the ad made clear HIS were a commercial company.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

Hearing Information Services (HIS) confirmed they were a commercial company. They said they were set up to provide a flow of potential customers for a number of independent hearing-aid dispensers owned by their parent company. As part of this role they produced various information booklets and guides like those offered in the ad. They believed the ad made clear they were a commercial company because at various times they stated the normal price of the guides, which were available free upon presentation of a promotional Code.

Assessment

Upheld

The ASA considered that stating the usual price of the guides did not make it clear that HIS were a commercial company. We noted the ad stated that HIS provided advice on hearing aids and "specifically whether it is better to go through the NHS or a private consultant". We considered that, when viewed underneath the heading, this implied HIS would have either recommended the NHS or the private route, depending on the consumer's individual circumstances. Because their response confirmed their purpose was to supply a flow of potential customers to dispensers owned by their parent company and because this was not made clear in the ad, we considered that the ad was misleading.

The ad breached CAP Code rules 2.3 (Recognition of marketing communications) and 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form.

Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)

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