Claims and images on www.chequecentre.co.uk, a website for a short-term loan provider.
(a) One image featured a step ladder, a paint pot and a half painted wall, as well as a Christmas tree and gifts. It stated "Need cash for Christmas? Borrow £50 - £1000* Today!" In the bottom left-hand corner, text stated "SHORT TERM LOAN". Next to that, text stated "*Terms and Conditions apply."
(b) A second image featured a Christmas tree decorated with baubles and featured the same text as image (a).
Underneath image (b), claims stated "Broken washing machine? Car won't start? Household repairs? There are 101 everyday reasons why you might need a bit of extra cash before your next payday. Whatever your reason is, Cheque Centre are here to help. With our Payday Loan service, you can borrow from £50 - £1,000, giving you the cash you need when you need it".
The complainant challenged whether the images and claim "Need cash for Christmas" were irresponsible because they encouraged consumers to take out loans in order to make unnecessary seasonal purchases.
Cheque Centres said the use of Christmas imagery and text "Need cash for Christmas" simply reflected that consumers were now approaching the Christmas period. They said no incentives were offered to induce consumers to take out a loan and there was no suggestion that individuals should make unnecessary purchases. Although they did not believe the images breached the Code, they were willing, nevertheless, to withdraw them.
The ASA noted both images included the text "Need cash for Christmas? Borrow £50 to £1,000" and featured Christmas trees.
Image (a) also featured a half painted wall which we considered was likely to be seen as a necessity to complete before Christmas. We considered in that context, consumers were likely to understand that the expense of doing so at a time when Christmas was approaching might cause that person to need additional financial help.
We acknowledged Christmas was a time when people did need extra money in order to cover additional costs such as buying gifts so that their children or family had something new to open, extra food to celebrate Christmas Day or travel expenses incurred by visiting family.
Although the claim referred to needing extra money at Christmas, we did not consider that alone would encourage consumers to take out a loan for unnecessary seasonal purchases. There was nothing in the images or claim to suggest that borrowed money should be spent on non-essential items such as lavish gifts, expensive dinner parties or new clothes for the festive season. There were no images of multiple gifts or any other images which suggested the money should be spent on non-essential items. Rather, the images and claim recognised that Christmas was a time when some people did need some financial help to tide them over. While we understood the complainant's concerns, we considered the images of the Christmas tree accompanied by the claim "Need cash for Christmas?" did not encourage consumers to spend that borrowed money on non-essential seasonal purchases and therefore, we concluded it was not irresponsible.
We investigated the images and claim under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Social responsibility) but did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary.