Two ads for FreePPICheck, a claims management company:
a. A tweet from FreePPICheck's Twitter account seen on 14 April 2016 stated "Mr & Mrs V Moore (Lloyds £23,150.11) ..." and featured the advertiser's web address.
b. A Facebook post for FreePPICheck seen on 5 April 2016 stated "Nigel Warne (Halifax £2,218.51)..." and featured the advertiser's web address.
Lloyds Banking Group challenged whether the claims about the amounts received by the customers featured in both ads were misleading and could be substantiated.
Claim4You Ltd t/a Free PPI Check said the amounts referred to in both ads were those offered by the respective banks. They provided copies of letters they had sent to the customers who featured in the ads which confirmed: the identity of the customers; the name of the bank against whom they had made a PPI claim; and the amount refunded by the bank to each customer.
The ads were for a PPI claims management company and in that context, the ASA considered consumers were likely to understand that the amounts quoted had been received by those customers as a result of making a claim through Free PPI Check. Therefore, we expected Free PPI Check to hold substantiation about Mr and Mrs Moore’s and Mr Warne's PPI claims to show that was the case.
We reviewed the letters which confirmed both customers had been successful in their claims. Mr and Mrs Moore had been refunded £23,150.11 from Lloyds and Mr Warne had been refunded £2,218.51 from Halifax. Both refunds were subject to tax on those amounts, but we considered consumers were likely to understand that such awards were subject to tax (where applicable).
Notwithstanding that, we understood that Free PPI Check levied a fee of 25% of the refund paid by a provider plus VAT, which further reduced the eventual amount that would be received by a customer. We considered that was material information which would contribute to a consumer’s decision as to whether or not to pursue a claim through Free PPI Check. However, it was not clear from the ad that such a fee would apply.
While we acknowledged that the amounts quoted were the total amounts refunded to the customers by the banks, it was not the amount eventually received by the customers. We considered the omission of the fee and the impact it had on the amount that was to be refunded created the impression that consumers would receive and benefit from the total amount quoted in the ads. Because that was not the case, we concluded they were misleading.
On this point, ads (a) and (b) 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), 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration) and 3.47 3.47 Claims that are likely to be interpreted as factual and appear in a testimonial must not mislead or be likely to mislead the consumer. (Endorsement and testimonials).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Claim4YouLtd not to imply that customers would receive and benefit from the full amount they had been refunded by a provider, when that was not the case.