Cookies policy statement
We are using cookies on our site to provide you with the best user experience.
Disabling cookies may prevent our website from working efficiently. Click ok to remove this message (we will remember your choice).
OK

ASA Adjudication on Bradleys School of Motoring

Bradleys School of Motoring

156 Devonshire Road
Belmont
County Durham
DH1 2BL

Date:

30 January 2013

Media:

Internet (on own site)

Sector:

Education

Number of complaints:

1

Complaint Ref:

A12-212126

Background

Summary of council decision:

Five issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.

Ad

The website www.bradleys-som.co.uk featured a number of claims for Bradleys School of Motoring. A banner across the top of the page stated "Bradleys School of Motoring North East's Premier Driving School". An embedded video featuring the testimonials of former students appeared on the website home page. Under a tab headed "Roll of Honour", text stated "No driving School can match our 1st time pass rates". Text under a second tab headed "Intensive courses" stated "WARNING - Please do not confuse our semi intensive courses with other driving schools as we are acquiring a considerable amount of pupils who have not been taught the basics properly recommended by the Driving standards agency".

Issue

Pass n Go Driving School challenged whether the following claims were misleading and could be substantiated:

1. "Bradleys School of Motoring North East's Premier Driving School", because they understood that their company had more instructors and therefore more pupils;

2. "Bradleys driving school is the most successful school in the north east for clean sheets", which appeared within the video, because they did not believe that information about other driving schools' pass rates and the number of clean sheets they achieved was generally available;

3. "Bradleys driving school setting the standards in the L market", which also appeared within the video, because they considered that they provided a better service to their customers and ensured better standards from their instructors; and

4. "No driving School can match our 1st time pass rates", again because they believed this information was not generally available.

5. They also challenged whether the statement "WARNING - Please do not confuse our semi intensive courses with other driving schools as we are acquiring a considerable amount of pupils who have not been taught the basics properly recommended by the Driving standards agency" misleadingly implied that courses from other schools were not taught to the standards required by the Driving Standards Agency, which they believed was not the case.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

1. Bradleys School of Motoring (Bradleys) said they did not dispute that Pass n Go Driving School (Pass n Go) had more instructors and more pupils than they did, but questioned whether that meant Pass n Go was the "premier" driving school. Bradleys stated that they did not advertise beyond their website and most of their pupils came to them by way of referrals. They said they had over 300 genuine testimonials on their website.

2. Bradleys stated that according to the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) a clean sheet was achieved on average every 300 driving tests. They said they had had 18 clean sheets in the past 18 months and considered that that was an amazing achievement. They also said they had contacted a number of driving schools (not including Pass n Go) to ask for information about the number of clean sheets they achieved but had found that that information was not available. They stated that in their experience most clean sheets came from independent driving instructors and not driving schools.

3. Bradleys stated that the claims to be "setting the standards in the L market" reflected their opinion that they were better than other driving schools, particularly in view of the number of their pupils who passed their test first time.

4. Bradleys accepted that it was very hard to prove that no other driving school could match their first time pass rates and said they had asked their web designer to change that claim. However, they also stated that they had looked at other driving schools' websites and Facebook pages and had not found any which appeared to have as many people pass first time as they did.

5. Bradleys stated that after they had spoken to a number of driving examiners it had become clear to them that learners were being taught to drive diesel cars and were not properly taught clutch control. They said they were able to provide contact details for students who had not been taught the right way.

Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA considered that the claim "Bradleys School of Motoring North East's Premier Driving School" was likely to be interpreted as being an objective claim of superiority. We also considered that, without further information in the ad explaining on what grounds the claim was made, consumers were likely to understand that Bradleys had the most pupils, the highest pass rate or the highest financial turnover in the area.

Although we acknowledged that Bradleys said they had over 300 testimonials on their website, we did not consider that most consumers would understand that the claim to be the North East's "premier" driving school was based on the number of testimonials they had received. Therefore, we did not consider that the testimonials referred to by Bradleys would be sufficient to substantiate the claim that they were the "North East's Premier Driving School". Because in our view that claim was likely to be regarded by consumers as capable of objective substantiation, and because we had not seen sufficient evidence substantiating the claim, we concluded that it was misleading.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.11 (Exaggeration) and 3.38 (Comparisons).

2. Upheld

We noted that the claim stated that Bradleys was "the most successful school in the north east for clean sheets", but that information regarding the number of clean sheets obtained by other driving schools was not readily available and therefore Bradleys could not demonstrate that they were more successful than other schools in the area in achieving clean sheets. Because the claim had not been adequately substantiated, we concluded that it was misleading.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.11 (Exaggeration) and 3.38 (Comparisons).

3. Upheld

We considered that in some instances the claim "Bradleys driving school setting the standards in the L market" could be understood to be an expression of Bradleys' opinion on the quality of their teaching, and therefore to be a subjective claim not capable of substantiation. However, we noted that the claim appeared at the end of an extensive video featuring details of past Bradleys students who had passed their driving test first time, many with clean sheets. We considered that, in that context, the claim had been directly linked to Bradleys' success in teaching to the standards required to achieve a first-time pass in their test with zero or very few faults and implied that they were superior to other driving schools in that regard. We noted that, for the reasons described in points 2 and 4, Bradleys were not able to demonstrate that they achieved more first-time passes or clean sheets than other driving schools. We therefore concluded that the claim was misleading.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.11 (Exaggeration) and 3.38 (Comparisons).

4. Upheld

We considered that consumers would be likely to understand from the claim "No driving School can match our 1st time pass rates" that Bradleys achieved either the highest number or the highest proportion of first-time passes. Although Bradleys stated that the claim appeared to be borne out by anecdotal evidence on their competitors' Facebook pages and websites, we considered that that did not constitute robust evidence in support of the claim. We also noted that the claim was not limited to a geographical area or by any other factors and for that reason considered that to substantiate the claim Bradleys would need to provide information relating to the first-time pass rates of driving schools across the country. Because Bradleys had not provided adequate substantiation for the claim, we concluded that it was misleading.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.11 (Exaggeration) and 3.38 (Comparisons).

5. Upheld

We considered that the claim "WARNING - Please do not confuse our semi intensive courses with other driving schools as we are acquiring a considerable amount of pupils who have not been taught the basics properly recommended by the Driving standards agency" implied that many driving schools other than Bradleys did not teach to the minimum safe standards in their semi-intensive courses. We noted that that information was likely to influence a consumer's decision regarding the driving school they chose. Although we acknowledged Bradleys' offer to provide contact details for pupils who they considered had not been taught correctly by other driving schools, we considered that testimonial evidence alone would not be sufficient to substantiate the claim and, in the absence of any other form of evidence, concluded that the claim was misleading.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.11 (Exaggeration) and 3.38 (Comparisons).

Action

The claims investigated and found to be in breach of the Code must not appear again in their current form. We told Bradleys not to make objective claims unless they held appropriate substantiation.

Follow Us

For ASA news, including our weekly rulings, press releases, research and reports.
 

How to comply with the rules

For advice and training on the Advertising Codes please visit the CAP website.

Make a complaint

Find out what types of ads we deal with and how to make a complaint.

Press Zone

This section is for journalists only. Here you will be able to access embargoed material, breaking news and briefing papers as well as profile details for the ASA press office.