ASA Adjudication on Coleman Rendell Ltd
22 February 2012
Internet (on own site)
Number of complaints:
Claims on www.ColemanRendell.co.uk, a plumbing and heating company, visited on 7 December 2012, stated "Coleman Rendell are one of the South West's largest privately-owned plumbing, heating and solar specialists" and "No-one knows more about installing boilers than our expert engineers. They're registered with Gas Safe and OFTEC and receive ongoing training to meet the highest standards".
The complainant challenged whether the following claims:
1. "Coleman Rendell are one of the South West's largest privately-owned plumbing, heating and solar specialists"; and,
2. Coleman Rendell's engineers were "registered with [...] OFTEC", were misleading and could be substantiated.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. Coleman Rendell stated that 90% of plumbing companies were single individuals and worked as sole traders, whereas Coleman Rendell employed a minimum of 7 staff at any one time and could have a maximum of 25-35 plumbers working for the company depending on the season, the economic climate and what projects they were currently working on, for example, a housing development project. They added that they had not claimed to be 'the largest', but "one of the largest privately-owned' plumbing, heating and solar specialists". They said large plumbing firms were owned by companies and were not family run, especially in the South West. They said they were one of the largest due to their turnover, the number of engineers, company vehicles and independent offices throughout the South West, but they did not hold supporting documentation. They said they knew all the large companies in the South West who were their competitors and that allowed them to make the assumption that they were one of the largest.
2. They said they were registered with OFTEC and all their engineers were fully qualified and fully trained. They provided a copy of the company's OFTEC certificate. They said that they also had employees undergoing OFTEC training and employees that had completed their training and were waiting for the certificate to arrive. They felt that justified the use of the plural "expert engineers" in their advertising.
The ASA noted that the claim was not an absolute superiority claim, but considered that it would be understood to mean that Coleman Rendell were amongst the South West's largest privately-owned plumbing, heating and solar specialists. Although we noted that they maintained that the vast majority of plumbing companies were very small companies or sole traders, we considered that, in the absence of documentary evidence supporting the claim "Coleman Rendell are one of the South West's largest privately-owned plumbing, heating and solar specialists", the ad was likely to mislead.
On that point, the claim breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.50 (Endorsements and testimonials).
We noted the OFTEC certificate stated that "Coleman Rendell has registered with OFTEC in respect of the Training and Assessment of its technicians and has agreed to operate in accordance with the requirements of the OFTEC Registration Scheme and Codes of Practice." We consulted with OFTEC who confirmed that Coleman Rendell, the company, held a valid OFTEC Registration, but also confirmed that they currently had only one registered technician. We considered that the claim "our expert engineers [are] registered with... OFTEC" implied that all the engineers employed by Coleman Rendell were OFTEC-registered, including temporary and contract engineers. Because we had not seen evidence that that was the case, we concluded that the claim was misleading.
On that point, the claim breached under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.50 (Endorsements and testimonials).
The claims must not appear again in their current form.