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ASA Adjudication on Esta Visa Ltd

Esta Visa Ltd t/a www.nhs-services.org.uk/EHIC

348-350 Lytham Road
Blackpool
Lancashire
FY4 1DW

Date:

19 September 2012

Media:

Internet (search engine)

Sector:

Business

Number of complaints:

1

Complaint Ref:

A12-202767

Ad

A sponsored search ad, seen in July 2012, stated "EHIC Apply Now - EHIC Replaces the E111 Card. www.nhs-services.org.uk/EHIC Get Your Official EHIC Now!"

Issue

The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because he believed the URL "www.nhs-services.org.uk" implied a link with the NHS.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

Esta Visa Ltd t/a www.nhs-services.org.uk/EHIC (Esta Visa) felt the website was clear in terms of the service offered and said it was clearly marked that they charged for a service. They added that consumers were also quite clearly advised that the cards were free and could be obtained for free, and they also provided a link for consumers to do so. They did not consider that the web domain was misleading, as people could click on the link, but did not have to buy the advertiser’s services. They said they also offered free advice and provided free information to consumers should they choose to e-mail them. They said the website clearly set out that the site was not affiliated to the NHS and stated "Please read the EHIC Facts section below. This website is not connected to or affiliated with the NHS or any government department".

Assessment

Upheld

The ASA noted that the website included text at the end of a paragraph on the home page, which stated "This website is not connected to or affiliated with the NHS or any government department". However, we considered that the use of the term "www.nhs-services" in the URL implied the advertiser was the NHS, which consumers would know to be the official provider of health services in the UK. Because that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1, 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.50 (Endorsements and testimonials).

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Esta Visa to ensure they did not imply they were linked to the NHS.

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