A website for an online booking form for practical driving tests, www.directdrivingtests.org, was designed in orange and white with tabs labelled "Book DSA Theory Test" and "Book DSA Practical Test" at the top of the page. Text stated "Our quick and simple booking form makes it easier than ever. Just take a minute out of your day to fill out the form and we'll organise the rest ... Our Experienced customer service team will be happy to answer all questions or queries via our contact us page these will be answered within the same working day The Easiest Way To Book Your Practical Driving Test ...".
The complainant challenged whether the website misleadingly implied it represented the official Driving Standards Agency (DSA).
Book Your Practical Test Online Ltd (Book Your Practical Test Online) amended their website to include a "Book Now" link that directed readers to the official Government website and included text that stated that they were not affiliated with the DSA. They said their price included extra services, such as changing tests to tailor customers' needs and cancelling tests on their behalf and that their website was available to take applications 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whereas the official website was limited. They also said the official government website did not use orange and white on their home page and that their website only had a few different shades of orange and that the arrow was different to the one that was featured on the DSA website because it was in a circle.
Up until 16 October 2012 the Directgov website, www.direct.gov.uk, used orange and white colours and featured an arrow logo, which appeared inside the letter "D" of "Directgov". That website featured dedicated pages to the DSA and a service for consumers to book a practical driving test online for free. On 17 October 2012 the new government website, www.gov.uk, that replaced the Directgov and Business Link websites, was launched. While the main website sections used a colour scheme that was primarily black and white, those DSA pages remained orange and white and featured the same arrow logo in the "D" of "Directgov".
The ASA considered that consumers would be familiar with the Directgov branding as it was used on the previous Directgov website, and as it was continuing to be used on dedicated DSA pages on the new government website. The advertiser's website was branded with a colour scheme of orange and white and featured an arrow logo in a circle that appeared before the letter "D" in the word "DIRECTDRIVINGTESTS.ORG". We considered that these features, in addition to their service of offering online bookings for practical driving tests, was similar enough to the branding of the previous Directgov website and the branding and services of the current DSA web pages on the current government website, to mislead readers into understanding that it was the official DSA website. We therefore concluded that the website was misleading.
The website breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising).
The website must not appear again in its current form. We told Book Your Practical Test Online Ltd not to imply that they were an official government service in future.