Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
CAP understands that any assessment of a person's hearing or prescription of a hearing aid must be done by a hearing aid dispenser registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC). Whilst it is possible to sell hearing aids via mail order, the assessing, testing and prescribing of a device must be carried out by an HPC registered hearing aid dispenser. For more information, see www.hpc-uk.org. By contrast, a listening aid or a hearing amplifier does not require testing or assessment and works by amplifying surrounding sound; its effects are generally untested though the principle of amplification is established.
Ads for products should not confuse between hearing aids and hearing/listening amplifiers.
Ads for a listening aids or a hearing amplifiers should not misleadingly claim that the device is “invisible” or “virtually undetectable” if the product is visible outside the ear (Merit Ltd, 20 September 2006).
Marketers of hearing aids should not claim to offer independent advice on the best hearing aid products and prices unless they can show they have no links to hearing aid manufacturers and retailers (Digital Hearing Aid Information Service Ltd, 4 November 2009). In 2015, the ASA ruled that an ad for hearing aid specialist which typically referred customers to a private solution after being seen by a hearing aid audiologist, misleadingly implied that it offered independent and impartial advice on hearing solutions rather than acting in a commercial capacity (Bloom Hearing Specialists, 21 October 2015)
Claims for both hearing aids and hearing amplifiers should be accurate, supported by documentary evidence and should not exaggerate the product’s efficacy (Rules 3.7 and 12.1). In 2011, the ASA ruled against an advertiser that was unable to prove that its devices were suitable for all types of hearing loss, or that users would experience “No Echo, No Feedback, No Whistling, No Wind Noise” (Digital Hearing Aid Information Service Ltd,7 December 2011).
Marketers advertising hearing amplifiers must not imply that they are as powerful or effective as genuine hearing aids or that they can alleviate hearing loss. They should not make specific claims of efficacy (for example, “hear a penny dropped from 45 feet away!”) or refer to “razor sharp clarity” without sound clinical evidence based on tests in the ear (Merit Ltd, 7 January 2009; IntraMed Ltd, 10 December 2008; Emery Ltd, 16 January 2008, and Trent International Management Services Ltd, 7 January 2004).
Claims in testimonials
Marketers are reminded that factual claims in customer testimonials are likely to be treated by the ASA/CAP as efficacy claims for the referenced product and as such, would need to be supported by documentary evidence.
The type and level of evidence required to support the claims would depend on the efficacy claim being made.
Marketers are reminded that testimonials should not confuse between hearing aids and hearing amplifiers.