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.
Recruitment agencies or job hosting websites should make clear in their ads the existence of any compulsory fees or charges which apply to their vacancies.
For vocational training, if a course fee is payable, this should be either clear from the context or stated – ads must not, for example, give the impression that a course is free if it’s not. The duration of the course and the level of attainment needed to embark on it may also need to be made clear depending on the circumstances. Whether the cost itself should be stated depends on whether it would be misleading to omit it in the context of the ad and the ASA will judge this on a case-by-case basis. In 2018, they upheld a complaint about an ad that stated “Proofreaders [sic] Earn £22+ Per Hour Working From Home!” for misleadingly omitting the cost of the course (Systematic Training and Trading Ltd t/a The Writers Bureau, 14 March 2018). In that case, the ASA noted that the actual cost of the course was £374 and that the ad featured the claim “No previous experience or special education required”. The ad also referred to potential earnings and the ability to work from home. In those circumstances, they ruled that the cost of the course was material information likely to influence a consumer’s decision to enquire further and therefore concluded that the omission in this context was misleading.
In addition, agencies, especially those in the entertainment business, should make clear whether they are advertising jobs or merely inviting consumers to register or audition. If they are offering genuine vacancies, potential employees should not be asked to send money for information. Historically, the ASA has upheld several complaints against such agencies, either for implying they are recruiting to fill existing vacancies (Hidden Faces, 7 April 2004) or for charging respondents for information. A.C. Entertainment (14 April 2004) and TalentedCompany (7 January 2004) both instructed respondents to call them on a premium rate service (PRS). Because some of the revenue from the PRS went to the marketer, the ASA concluded that it amounted to a charge and was therefore in breach of Rule 20.2.
Pop Sensations Ltd (11 February 2004), however, offered information using a PRS, web address or mailing address and a complaint on similar grounds was rejected; because potential employees could obtain information without calling a premium rate, the ASA considered the ad acceptable.
If casting agencies and the like are seeking people with particular voices, it is possible that using a PRS as a means to audition is acceptable, i.e. it is the audition that is being funded by the PRS.
Other fees, such as charges for registration, photographs, more information etc should be stated in the initial ad (International Film Extras, 2 February 2005; Break ‘A’ Legg Model & Casting Agency & Drama School, 1 September 2004 and Transitions Overseas Ltd, 24 November 2004). That is an important factor for those advertising business opportunities and homework schemes the target audience for which might be particularly vulnerable. In the ASA’s experience, many homework schemes require a payment of some sort, whether for raw materials, more information, subsequent advertisements or whatever (Webcrom Ltd,16 June 2004 and 9 March 2005). Although they do not have to state the cost in the initial advertisement, marketers must state that applicants will have to make payment. Claims like “outlay required” or “fee payable” are sufficient in the initial ad as long as free follow-up literature explains the full financial commitment.