A TV ad and a radio ad for British Gas' HomeCare cover:
a. Voice-over in the TV ad, seen in February 2016, stated "Last winter we got to nine out of ten boiler breakdowns on the same day when called before noon." On-screen text stated "Conditions and exclusions apply. Average of 9/10 HomeCare customers without heating or hot water were visited on the same day when they called before 12 last winter".
b. Voice-over in the radio ad, also heard in February 2016, stated "Last winter we got to nine out of ten boiler breakdowns on the same day when called before noon ... contract and terms apply."
Two complainants challenged whether the claim "Last winter we got to nine out of ten boiler breakdowns on the same day when called before noon" in the TV ad was misleading and could be substantiated. One of those also challenged the same claim in the radio ad.
1. & 2. British Gas said they tracked and recorded how often they met the target across eight geographical regions across the UK each month and that the "last winter" claim in the ads referred to winter 2014–2015. They supplied data from October 2014 to February 2015. They explained that they monitored current response times with the intention of withdrawing the ads if current response times fell below the level claimed and supplied data for the October 2015 to February 2016 period which they believed also supported the claim.
Clearcast and Radiocentre said they had seen the same October 2014 to February 2015 data when clearing the ads for transmission. They both noted that, averaged over the whole period, the October 2014 to February 2015 data showed a same day response rate of 89.6% when customers called before 12 midday. They considered it was reasonable to round up the figure to nine out of ten.
1. & 2. Not upheld
The ASA considered consumers would expect from the claim that, where HomeCare customers were without heating and/or hot water due to a boiler breakdown, British Gas engineers attended on the same day in nine out of ten cases in the months that would be generally accepted as winter months in the previous winter, 2014 to 2015, if they were notified before 12 midday. We considered "got to" suggested that British Gas engineers attended and, where possible, fixed the fault, but that consumers would expect that some faults could not be repaired on the same day. While the claim referred to the previous winter, we considered consumers would expect a similar service standard to apply when they saw or heard the ads.
The data we had been sent to support the claim showed an overall average same-day attendance rate for HomeCare customers without heating or hot water, who called British Gas before 12 midday, of 89.6% for October 2014 to February 2015 and 89.9% for October 2015 to February 2016. There were two regions where, between October 2014 and February 2015, the same-day attendance rate was closer to 80% than 90%, and that continued to apply to one of those regions in the period ending February 2016. However, there had been a general improvement in the figures from year to year and the claim referred to an average across the UK. In that context, we considered that the evidence was sufficient to support the claim and concluded that the ads were not misleading.
We investigated the ads under BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Advertisements must not falsely imply that the advertiser is acting as a consumer or for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession. Advertisements must make clear their commercial intent, if that is not obvious from the context. (Substantiation), but did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary.