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ASA Adjudication on Kaizen Clinic Ltd

Kaizen Clinic Ltd t/a The ME Cure Clinic

Mayfair House
11 Lurke Street
Bedford
MK40 3HZ

Date:

25 September 2013

Media:

Internet (on own site)

Sector:

Health and beauty

Number of complaints:

1

Agency:

None

Complaint Ref:

A13-234860

Background

Summary of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.

Ad

A website www.mecureclinic.com, which offered to cure Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, featured text which stated "At Last, A Major Breakthrough ... Your Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyeltis [sic] (ME) Can Now Be Cured! Welcome to the ME Clinic, specialists, in the elimination of ME/CFS Read about the Unique ME Cure Clinic Money Back Guarantee below It's true, your ME/CFS no longer have to be endured or managed. Due to a major breakthrough in the treatment of ME / CFS by the Bedford based ME Clinic, it is now possible to completely cure these skin conditions in a pain-free, needle-free and drug-free way once and for all. The ME Clinic Treatment Programme ™ has been running successfully for well over 3 years and over and over again has proved its undoubted effectiveness".

Further text beneath the sub-heading "Two Simple Steps To ME / CFS Elimination" stated "The end result is a guaranteed return to full health with no more fears of your skin flaring up or becoming so itchy that you just want to scratch and scrape it till it bleeds. You no longer have to use ineffectual steroid creams that cause so much long term damage to your skin; no more worries about being stared at and so not venturing out; and an end to the constant fear of the next ME / CFS flare up. Significant Improvement within 2 months or YOUR MONEY BACK!"

The ad included a text box, which featured the text "The ME Clinic Guarantee Significant Improvement within 2 months or YOUR MONEY BACK* Probably the most startling element about the ME Clinic programme is the fact that we are so confident of our success, we promise that if the ME Cure Clinic Treatment programme has not been able to significantly improve your condition within two months we will refund the cost of your treatment in full!" A text box, with a red background featured text that stated "100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE".

Further text stated "There really is no reason to hesitate, the ME Clinic Treatment Programme is a tried and tested, safe, natural route back to full health. And, since you are guaranteed your money back if the treatment doesn't work for you, you really have nothing to lose ... and everything to gain".

Issue

The complainant challenged whether:

1. the claims that the advertiser could cure ME were misleading and could be substantiated, because they understood there was no known cure for ME; and

2. the references to the money back guarantee misleadingly implied the advertiser guaranteed a cure for ME, because they understood the guarantee related to improvements by the advertisers' own measures rather than a cure.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

Kaizen Clinic Ltd t/a the ME Cure Clnic (ME Cure Clinic) offered to make a number of amendments to the ad. However, we considered those amendments were not sufficient to resolve the complaint.

Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA noted the ad offered "The ME Cure Clinic Treatment Programme" and made multiple references to the ability of the treatment to cure ME. We also considered the references to the advertiser's name, the ME Cure Clinic, implied efficacy of the programme. In the absence of robust documentary evidence to demonstrate that the programme could cure ME, we concluded that the efficacy claims had not been substantiated and therefore breached the Code.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 12.1 and 12.6 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

2. Upheld

The ad stated "The ME Clinic Guarantee Significant Improvement within 2 months" and "we are so confident of our success, we promise that if the ME Cure Clinic Treatment programme has not been able to significantly improve your condition within two months we will refund the cost of your treatment in full!". In conjunction with the further claims that the treatment could cure ME, we considered consumers would understand the references to the guarantee implied that the treatment guaranteed a cure for ME. Because we had not seen robust documentary to demonstrate that, we concluded that the references to the money back guarantee were likely to mislead.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 12.1 and 12.6 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told the ME Cure Clinic to ensure efficacy claims were capable of robust substantiation in future. We also told them not to imply that they guaranteed a cure for ME, if they did not hold robust documentary evidence to demonstrate that.

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