ASA Ruling on CamperCare Products
CamperCare Products t/a
30 January 2013
Internet (OM 3rd party)
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated of which both were Upheld
A listing on Ebay stated "RECHARGE YOUR BATTERY UP TO 6 TIMES FASTER THAN A GENERATOR … THE SUPERCHARGER DELIVERS A MASSIVE 50 AMPS OF 12 VOLT DC POWER … A STANDARD 240 VOLT GENERATOR DELIVERS ONLINE 8.3 AMPS OF 12 VOLT DC POWER. SEE THE COMPARISON FOR YOURSELF. THE SUPERCHARGER 50 AMP 12 VOLT OUTPUT **CHARGE CONTROLLED DRY WEIGHT 11.5KGS. OUR PRICE £499.00. *HONDA EU20i 8.3 AMP 12 VOLT OUTPUT. NO CHARGE CONTROL DRY WEIGHT 21 KGS RRP £1360.00. **Charge controlled means that the voltage output is controlled to maximize the charging efficiency into the battery ie [sic], to prevent over charging and possible damage to the battery. *Based on the 2011 technical specifications and rrp price. QUESTION? How long does it take to put charge into a 70 AMP Leisure battery from 50% empty needing 35 AMPS?" It displayed a table comparing "The Supercharger" with a "Honda EU20i", a "85 Watt Solar Panel" and a "240 Volt Standard Power Supply". The table showed the "12 VOLT OUTPUT AMPS" for each model and the "TIME TAKEN IN MINUTES" which stated that the Supercharger took 42 minutes, the Honda EU20i took 253 minutes, the solar panel took 420 minutes and the standard power supply took 221 minutes.
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the recharging times were misleading and could be substantiated; and
2. the comparisons were misleading and could be substantiated, because he believed that it was inappropriate to compare the Supercharger with the other models selected as they were not designed for the same purpose and the comparison did not take into account that the Honda generator and 240V power supply would normally be used in conjunction with a multi-stage battery charger which would affect the charging speed.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. CamperCare Products said the recharging claims had been removed from their advertising.
2. They said the Honda generator was also supplied with an 8.3amp 12 volt output for charging batteries complete with charging leads. They said they quoted that battery charging facility and that was the basis of the comparison as the Supercharger was only manufactured to charge batteries. They said the use of additional equipment with the Honda generator was irrelevant as they only quoted the battery charging facility of the generator.
They added the Supercharger quoted charging output was compared to the Honda and was based on the 12 volt DC output of the generator. They said that output was supplied by Honda to provide a battery charging facility and they provided charging leads for the purpose. They said the quoted figures by Honda were supplied on their specification sheets and provided a link to the figures.
They said the Supercharger produced 50 amps 12 volt DC power and the Honda generator produced 8.3 amps 12 volt DC power, but their claim was based purely on the 12 volt DC output and not on the basis that additional equipment could be purchased and run on the 240 volt output.
They said they claimed that an 85 watt solar panel gave out a maximum of 5amps and had only had one function, which was to recharge batteries. They said its output was measured in amps and it could not be used with a multi-stage battery charger. They said the on board "240 Volt Standard Power Supply" referred to the on board battery charger, which was actually a 12-volt power supply, which would charge batteries at approx. 9.5 amps.
They said solar panels were sold specifically to charge 12-volt batteries, their output figures were always quoted on the basis of their maximum output before the output was put through a voltage regulator, which ultimately reduced the voltage and amperage and was based on full sun in summer. They provided a link to an example of a solar battery charger.
The ASA noted it had not received any documentary evidence in support of the recharging claims. Because we had not seen any supporting documentation which substantiated the figures in the ad, we concluded that it was misleading.
On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.11 (Exaggeration).
We noted that we had not seen any supporting documentation for the charging times claimed in the comparison.
We consulted an expert regarding the validity of the comparison between the Supercharger, the Honda Generator, solar panel and a mains supplied battery charger.
We understood that for a comparison to be appropriate, each product should be capable of charging a 12-volt lead acid battery and it would be additionally valid to include further qualifying information concerning the advantages and limitations of the comparison for consumers to understand the wider implications of using each product.
We noted that we had not seen any evidence that the Honda EU20i generator was able to charge a 12-volt battery from its 12-volt outlet. Although we understood that the Honda's 230-volt output could be used with a dedicated mains charger to charge a battery, we understood that, in such cases, the charging times would be governed by the characteristics of the mains powered charger rather than the generator to which it was connected. We therefore considered that the comparative claim regarding the Honda EU20i generator had not been supported and was likely to mislead.
We noted that the link to the solar battery charger stated "in the UK summer this 60w 12v solar battery charger kit will charge your battery around 40-45 amps per day". However, we did not consider that a product description was sufficient documentation to support a charging claim. Although we understood that solar panels could be used to charge batteries, we noted that we had not seen any data to support the comparative charging times attributed to the "85 Watt Solar Panel".
We understood that modern electronically controlled mains powered battery chargers charged batteries at the maximum rate for a given maximum current output, whilst protecting the battery, and any devices connected to it, and whilst the battery was being charged. We understood they also protected against overcharging and could renovate a deeply discharged battery. We noted that, although the advertiser claimed that a battery could not be overcharged by the Supercharger because it was based on alternator technology, no supporting evidence for that claim, or for the comparative charging times attributed to the "240 Volt Standard Power Supply" had been provided.
Because we had not seen evidence to support the claims for the charging times when using the Supercharger or the other products, and because we understood that, under the conditions cited, any increased current output from the Supercharger compared with the other charging devices would not be beneficial in reducing charging times as the ad claimed, we concluded that the comparisons were misleading.
On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.11 (Exaggeration), 3.33 (Comparisons with Identifiable Competitors) and 3.38 (Other comparisons).
The claims must not appear again in their current form. We told the advertisers to ensure they held supporting documentation for their claims and to ensure their claims were accurate and that any product comparisons were appropriate.