ASA Adjudication on UK GRO Certificates
UK GRO Certificates
340 Tyburn Road
23 November 2011
Internet (on own site)
Number of complaints:
Claims on a website for replacement certificates which appeared in June 2011 stated "UK GRO Certificates is a secure online personal documentation retrieval service acquiring replacement Birth Certificate, Death Certificate, Marriage Certificates, Adoption Certificate, Civil Partner Certificate and Decree Absolute Certificate from the appropriate UK Government offices. UK GRO Certificates team of proffesional [sic] certificate and document researchers provides the leading service in the UK and Ireland, offering you the quickest and best possible service when ordering a birth, marriage or death certificate or any other official documents". In the top left-hand corner of the home page was a Union flag beside the claim "UK GRO CERTIFICATES. OFFICIAL CERTIFICATES AND APOSTILLE SERVICES".
On the home page, there were tabs and pictures for each of the certificates they provided. Underneath the pictures, text stated "All ... Certificates obtained from Govt. sources for England & Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, and Ireland.
At the bottom of the home page, titled "Official Certificates", there was a graphic of the Queen's head and text stated "Fully Documented Versions ... Passport Office and ID Approved".
On the ‘delivery’ page, the website gave the expected delivery times for orders and stated “General Register Office Order Type: Standard UK 3 working days, Priority UK 2 working days”.
The Home Office Identity & Passport Service challenged whether the website misleadingly implied it was the government's General Register Office (GRO).
CAP Code (Edition 12)
UK GRO Certificates (UK GRO) said that they were a completely independent document retrieval service provider. They did not believe that they had nor was it their intention to show or promote their website as the GRO. They apologised for any misleading claims on their website and were willing to change the content and remove the ‘Golden Seal’ featuring the Queen’s head as soon as possible.
The ASA welcomed UK GRO’s willingness to amend its website. However, we considered the acronym ‘GRO’ in UK GRO’s name which appeared throughout the website, together with the fact that UK GRO offered the same service that was available from the GRO itself and claims such as “official”, “General Register Office types” and “All certificates obtained from Govt sources” created the overall impression that the website was the GRO. We considered that consumers could be misled into thinking that they were buying a certificate from the GRO, when that was not the case. We therefore concluded that the claims were misleading.
The claims breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).
The claims must not appear again in their current form. We told UK GRO Certificates not to imply that they were GRO.