ASA Adjudication on CYC Marketing Ltd
CYC Marketing Ltd t/a
20–22 Bedford Row
16 May 2012
Internet (sales promotion)
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
Claims on www.britensure.thesafetransaction.com, a website offering a teeth whitening treatment, included "LIMITED TIME ONLY GET YOUR TRIAL SUPPLY" and "EXCLUSIVE: Get your Trial Supply RUSH MY 1-MONTH SUPPLY". Small print stated "*p&p apply T&C". The text "T&C" linked to a box listing terms and conditions to the trial. The website was viewed in November 2011.
Two complainants challenged whether:
1. the ad was misleading, because it did not make clear that significant conditions applied to the promotion; and
2. the promotion was conducted fairly and efficiently.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. & 2. CYC Marketing Ltd t/a Britensure (Britensure) said the ad stated that the product was sold as a "trial", and included a link to the terms and conditions to the trial. They said that, once consumers had filled in their contact details on that web page, they were taken to a web page where they filled in their payment information. They said that web page included text which stated the terms and conditions to the trial, and furthermore, before being able to submit their order, consumers had to tick a box to state that they had read the terms to the Trial offer. That tick box was next to a link to the terms and conditions. Britensure said that every product was despatched with notes which included their refund policy and terms and conditions, together with a product return form. They added that they had recently been contacted by Trading Standards and, as a result, had updated their terms and conditions to comply with the Distance Selling Regulations 2000. They provided a copy of the terms and conditions which applied when the complainants viewed the ad.
The ASA understood that the terms and conditions to the offer stated that, if customers did not return the one-month trial supply of the product within 14 days of the order date, they would be charged £69.95 for that supply. We noted the terms and conditions also stated that, by ordering the one-month trial supply of the product, customers also agreed to receive an ongoing monthly supply of the product, chargeable at £69.95 per month. We considered those conditions were significant enough to affect consumers' decisions on whether to participate in the trial and therefore should have been prominent.
We noted the terms and conditions could be accessed through linked small print in the ad. However, we considered that link was not prominent enough to alert consumers to the significant conditions. Furthermore, we considered that, because the ad included a series of prominent claims such as "LIMITED TIME ONLY GET YOUR TRIAL SUPPLY", and the only charge referred to was in the small print, which stated "*p&p apply ...", the overall impression was that consumers would be charged postage and packing, but no other charges applied to the one-month trial supply of the product. Because the ad did not make significant conditions clear, we concluded that the promotion was misleading.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1, 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Qualification) and 8.17.1 (Significant Conditions for Promotions).
We understood from the complainants that they did not receive the one-month trial supply of the product until after the deadline by which they must return the product if they did not wish to be charged. We also understood that, despite contacting Britensure and explaining the situation, they had been unable to secure refunds. We considered the product should have been despatched to the complainants within a reasonable timeframe of the order dates so that they had sufficient time in which to trial the product, and, if they wished, to return it to Britensure before the deadline stated in the terms and conditions. We considered it was unlikely that had been the case, given that both complainants received the product after that deadline. We concluded that the promotion had not, therefore, been conducted fairly and efficiently.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 8.2 (Sales Promotions) and 8.14 (Administration).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Britensure to ensure that significant conditions to the promotion were made clear in the ad. We also told them to ensure their promotions were conducted and administrated fairly and efficiently.