Claims on www.consumerfinanceclaims.org.uk/ppi/intro, promoting a claims management company, stated, under the PPI Intro tab, "If you've taken out a loan, mortgage or credit card since 1994 all you need to do is contact us via our online application form or by giving us a call ... Here at Consumer Finance Claims we can look to recover the full cost plus interest if we believe that you have been mis-sold PPI. If your loan is still running we can also look to reduce your ongoing payments as part of our negotiations ... Unlike many other inexperienced companies who have sprung up in 2010 Consumer Finance Claims has being [sic] operating since 2008! We are well versed in dealing with lenders and know which pitfalls to look for which make your case stronger!"
The complainant challenged whether the claim "We are well versed in dealing with lenders and know which pitfalls to look for which make your case stronger!" was misleading, because it implied consumers were more likely to achieve a better outcome by using the advertisers' services, whereas he understood that the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) had indicated that the decisions which the FOS made on individual cases were not more or less favourable because a consumer had chosen to be represented by a claims management company (CMC).
Consumer Finance Claims said they did not state that a consumer should use their services or those of another CMC in order to obtain a successful refund. As they dealt with a high number of claims and had done so for a number of years, they felt they had a full understanding of the claims process, which consumers who contacted lenders themselves directly might not. They said they were aware of the information needed to start a claim, additional requests that lenders were likely to make, the type of requests that would need answering, the processing times and the likely level of redress. They stated that providing all the appropriate information at the outset did make a case stronger, because the lender then had all appropriate details to begin a claim, which prevented unnecessary delays and ensured no stops would be put in place by the lender.
The ASA acknowledged that a joint note from the Claims Management Regulator (the Ministry of Justice), the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the FOS and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) stated "The decisions which the ombudsman service and the FSCS make on individual cases are not more or less favourable because a consumer had chosen to be represented by a CMC" and therefore understood that a consumer was not more likely to obtain a more favourable outcome by using the services of a CMC.
We considered the claim "we ... know which pitfalls to look for which make your case stronger!" would be understood to mean that using the advertisers' services would be more likely to bring about a better outcome for a consumer than if they referred their case directly to the lender or FOS; namely, that they would be likely to have their case upheld or obtain more redress or compensation.
Because we considered that the claim was contradicted by the research and advice published by the relevant regulatory authorities, which stated that the decisions which the FOS made on individual cases were not more or less favourable because a consumer has chosen to be represented by a CMC, we concluded that the claim was likely to mislead.
Investigated under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 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) and 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration).
The claim must not appear again in its current form.