A directory ad for Academy Maintenance that stated "NO CALL OUT CHARGE".
The complainant, who stated that they had been charged for diagnosis of a fault, challenged whether the claim "NO CALL OUT CHARGE" was misleading and could be substantiated.
Academy Maintenance Group acknowledged the complaint and said they did not agree that there was a problem, but did not provide a written response.
The ASA noted that, unless callers could decline work without incurring a cost, advertisers claiming "NO CALL OUT CHARGE" or similar should not generally charge for the time spent travelling to the caller's home and the initial diagnosis of the problem. We understood from Academy Maintenance Group that their general practice was to charge from the time the workman arrived, and that they considered this did not constitute diagnosis time because they took full details of the issue over the phone, and customers had to agree to the hourly rate before a workman would be sent out. Although we acknowledged that having details of the problem may indicate what the issue was likely to be, we considered it unlikely that a full diagnosis would be carried out remotely and that some time upon entering the premises would therefore need to be spent in confirming a diagnosis. We considered that consumers would understand this in situ checking of the fault to be a part of the diagnostic process, and therefore covered by the "NO CALL OUT CHARGE" claim. Because Academy Maintenance Group had not demonstrated that consumers could decline work without incurring a cost for diagnosing the problem, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Academy Maintenance Group to ensure that future ads did not claim that a call-out charge did not apply unless they could demonstrate that consumers would not be charged for time spent diagnosing a fault.