ASA Adjudication on Rointe
Industrias Royal Termic, S.L.
Pol. Ind. Vicente Antolinos
C./E, Parcela 43. 30140 Santomera
20 June 2012
Number of complaints:
A magazine ad, for Rointe's digital heat system, included text that stated "Thanks to our Optimizer Energy Plus technology, and according to the results of tests performed on our products by independent laboratories, we can guarantee that - with a correct sizing and installation of our products - you can save up to 60% of the Rointe running cost, as shown in the table here". The ad also included a table, under the text "ANNUAL RUNNING COST COMPARISON", which compared the Rointe digital system with a panel heater, boiler system and storage heater. Text above the table stated "For a fair comparison we have chosen the 7 hours corresponding to the usual storage heater loading period, supposing a 100% consumption of all systems. Therefore, the calculation is based on a cost of 5p per kW, 7 hours a day, 7 days a week, 30 weeks of heating a year (4p in the case of the boiler) …".
The complainant, a professional electrician, challenged whether the claim "you can save up to 60% of the Rointe running cost …" was misleading and could be substantiated.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Rointe said the claim referred to the effective power and running cost figures given in relation to various Rointe models in the table shown in the ad. They said effective power was the actual power consumed by the heaters, provided they were correctly sized and installed. They said the claim was substantiated by research carried out by an independent organisation. They provided that research as well as information related to the panel heater and storage heater. Rointe said that the cost comparisons were made on the basis of information from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which related to average tariffs in the UK. They also submitted that document.
They said they had chosen the seven hours related to the usual storage heater loading period, to ensure the same seven hours of consumption were used for each system, because the other heating systems included in the comparison could adapt to the usage of a storage heater but the storage heater could not similarly adapt. Rointe said the period of seven days per week, 30 weeks per year had been selected because it was considered the average UK heating period, which was approximately September to March, and that data for the panel and storage heater was obtained from the manufacturer's brochure. They had compared the effective power of the Rointe heater with the nominal power of the other heaters only because they had not been able to locate any published information about the effective power or running costs of their competitors' products. They submitted the manufacturer's brochure, information from a competitor's website and details of the calculations they used as the basis of the running cost for the boiler and Rointe systems. They also submitted a comparative report on a Rointe heater and a panel heater, which was conducted in a hotel and they said found the energy saving with their product was 58%. They said they did not intend to mislead but to provide consumers with information that had not previously been provided by manufacturers, to assist them in reaching an informed decision. Rointe said the claim had, however, since been removed from their advertising and would not be used again.
The ASA acknowledged Rointe had removed the claim from their advertising. We noted, however, the results of the independently conducted performance test indicated that the average power a Rointe heater needed to reach the desired temperature of 21 degrees Celsius was 560 watts, which Rointe calculated represented 40% of the nominal power and therefore a 60% saving in power and therefore running cost. We considered, however, that, in the context of an ad that compared four different types of heating system and gave running costs for each of the systems in relation to different room sizes, the claim "you can save up to 60% of the Rointe running cost …" was likely to be interpreted as suggesting Rointe systems would save users up to 60% compared with the costs associated with the panel heater, boiler system and storage heater featured, rather than as suggesting Rointe users could use the system at 40% of the nominal power and therefore make a 60% saving on its potential running cost.
We understood the result of the performance test was used as the basis of the claims related to nominal and effective power, and the related running costs, for the six other room sizes, and the Rointe heaters required for those room sizes, featured in the ad. We noted the performance test results Rointe submitted related to only the 1,430 watt heater and took into account only one 24-hour period, which we considered was not a sufficient basis for claims that related to a year's heating use and to other room sizes and heaters to that tested. Similarly, although we acknowledged that the trial in the hotel took place over almost three months, we were concerned that it involved only one Rointe heater and one panel heater (rather than relating to each type of heater referred to in the ad) and that the results were extrapolated from the two hotel rooms to the entire hotel, and estate, as well as to the remaining nine months of the year.
We also noted that data related to the panel and storage heaters that were compared in the ad was obtained from one manufacturer's brochure rather than by directly comparing the performance of such heaters across the market to Rointe's in the same circumstances. We noted we had not seen data related to the power and running costs associated with the boiler system and that the ad compared Rointe's effective power with the nominal power of the comparison systems. We noted that Rointe said they had been unable to locate details of the effective power of their competitors' systems, but that information published on a competitor's website stated that it was not possible to publish detailed information on running costs because there were so many variables to consider, and therefore considered they should not have made a claim that did not allow for a like-for-like comparison.
In relation to the costs per kilowatt that were used as the basis of the comparison in the ad, we noted the electricity cost appeared to have been based on the average variable night price for direct debit customers but that the gas cost was based on the average variable unit price for either credit or pre-payment customers. We were concerned that also did not allow for a like-for-like comparison. For the reasons given, we considered the claim "you can save up to 60% of the Rointe running cost …" had not been substantiated. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.38 (Other comparisons).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Rointe to ensure they held adequate substantiation for their future objective claims.