ASA Adjudication on Veggiedates.co.uk
43 Virginia Way
28 September 2011
Internet (search engine), Internet (on own site)
Number of complaints:
Claims on the home page of a dating website stated "Veggie dates ... Find your veggie dates ... FIND VEGGIE DATES! Meet single vegetarian men and women looking for love in the UK ... You can register for free & search Veggie Dates anonymously right away - it's completely safe, secure and confidential - from a trusted UK vegetarian online dating agency ... Meet men and women for online dating - all looking for relationships with other Vegetarians! Join Veggie Dates for free and start browsing our selection of vegan and vegetarian singles online today ...". On a separate webpage entitled "Terms and Conditions", under a heading "Associate Websites", text stated "The Service is offered through and accessible through a number of other websites in addition to the Site. By registering with the Site you acknowledge and accept that all Content that you post to the site may be searchable and available to users of the Service who access it via different web sites from the Site. You further acknowledge and accept that other members of the Service that you may view and communicate with via the Service may have registered with and accessed the Service through a number of different web sites. Global Personals make an effort to ensure that members of the Service are not connected with other members that may be inappropriate and therefore apply various classifications to the various web sites that provide access to the Service. By registering with the site you acknowledge and accept that Global Personals may apply certain classifications to your profile due to your accessing the Service via the Site and may use such classifications to restrict: the availability of communication between yourself and other members of the Service; the availability of the details of other members of the Service to yourself; and the availability of your details to other members of the Service".
The complainant challenged whether the repeated claim that the website was for vegetarians and vegans only was misleading and could be substantiated, because he understood that the majority of the people listed on the site were not vegetarian or vegan.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Veggiedates.co.uk explained that the website was one of several dating websites that shared a common database of members. They acknowledged that the site contained non-vegetarians and non-vegans and that these represented the majority of members on the site. They did not believe that the website implied it was for vegetarians or vegans only because nowhere on the site did it state the word "only". The website simply invited vegetarians to join and meet other vegetarians. A member could indicate they were vegetarian or not by ticking a box in their dating profile. Members could then browse other members by looking at their profiles to see if they were also vegetarian. They said that when they first launched the site, they had intended to include a filter which would have allowed a user to search for vegetarian members. This had not been possible but was something they hoped to include in the future.
The ASA noted that the majority of members on the site were not vegetarians and that the database of members was one which was shared by several dating sites. We noted that the only way of finding vegetarian members was to browse profiles and that search method depended on a member indicating, by ticking a box in their profile, that they were vegetarian. Whilst we recognised that the website did not state it was "only" for vegetarians and vegans, we considered it was clearly marketed at vegetarians and vegans by references to vegetarians throughout, such as "Find your veggie dates", "Meet single vegetarian men and women", "a trusted UK vegetarian online dating agency", “all looking for relationships with other Vegetarians!” and “Start browsing our selection of vegan and vegetarian singles online today”. We also considered that the terms and conditions, which made clear that the database contained members who had registered through other dating sites, contradicted the overall impression that the site was primarily for members who were vegetarian.
We concluded that because claims on the home page gave the impression that the website was for vegetarians, and consumers were likely to assume that all or the vast majority of its members were vegetarians or purported to be vegetarians, whereas that was not the case, they were misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.11 (Exaggeration).
The home page must not appear again in its current form. We told Veggiedates.co.uk not to imply that their dating site is for vegetarians and vegans unless all or the vast majority of members are, or purport to be, vegetarian or vegan.