Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, of which one was Not upheld and two were Upheld.
The website www.fischerfutureheat.com, for a heating company, seen on 17 January 2017. Under the heading “Electric Storage Heaters” the ad stated “Fischer German electric storage heaters are the perfect replacement for gas central heating or night storage heaters. They’re low input for total efficiency”. The ad also stated “Request a free heating survey … An incorrectly sized electrical storage heater will cost you more as it would need to stay on longer to reach your desired room temperature, this could cost you £’s on your electricity bills! Our survey is designed to save you money by only installing the radiators which are best suited to your home. Take advantage of our free, no obligation heating survey and find out how much you could save.”
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the ad misleadingly claimed that the products were storage heaters;
2. the claim “They’re low input for total efficiency” was misleading and could be substantiated; and
3. the claim “Our survey is designed to save you money … find out how much money you could save” was misleading and could be substantiated.
1. Fischer Future Heat UK Ltd said that the products were storage heaters. They said there were different types of storage heating, of which night storage heating was only one. They also said that their heaters were low-input storage heaters, but they were, nonetheless, storage heaters because they had a storage element.
2. Fischer Future Heat said that their heaters were low input because they used on average 1.9 kW of electricity compared with 3.4 kW used by traditional night storage heating. They said that the low input allowed the heater to be totally efficient as the product only consumed the electricity needed at a particular time to heat a room to the desired temperature. They said that their heaters were essentially a ‘use as you need’ system and that meant that no electricity was wasted, hence the term “total efficiency”.
3. Fischer Future Heat said that their survey was designed to save customers’ money. They said it was commonly understood that if a heater was undersized it would work harder to try and heat a greater space than they were designed to do. They said that the survey allowed a trained engineer to properly assess the requirements of a particular property and its rooms so that the heater installed would heat the room efficiently on a low input basis, ensuring minimal electricity usage resulting in lower costs to the customer.
1. Not upheld
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the term “storage heaters” to mean that the products included a feature which enabled heat to be retained and used at a later time.
We understood storage heaters typically stored heat during the night when some electricity tariffs were cheaper, and that the stored heat could then be used during the next day, but that Fisher Future Heat’s products were not ‘night’ storage heaters. Although Fischer Future Heat did not provide any further explanation of how their storage heaters retained and then delivered heat, we understood that the products contained a clay core which was typical of storage heaters.
Because Fischer Future Heat storage heaters were manufactured with a clay core as would be expected for such products, we concluded the claim “storage heaters” was not misleading.
On that point, we Investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 (Misleading advertising), but did not find it in breach.
We considered that consumers would understand the claim “Fischer German electric storage heaters are the perfect replacement for gas central heating or night storage heaters. They’re low input for total efficiency …” to mean that their products required a lower amount of energy consumption, compared with gas heating or other similar storage heaters that required a higher energy input to store heat which would then provide adequate heating requirements for a particular room.
We acknowledged Fischer Future Heat’s assertion that their products used an average of 1.9 kW of electricity compared with the higher amount of 3.4 kW used by traditional storage heaters. We understood that the required kW input and therefore output for a storage heater was dependent on several variables such as room size, current insulation, wall size and type and desired temperature, and that meant that the kW input needed may be higher based on those factors. We therefore considered that we needed to see evidence that Fischer Future Heat’s 1.9 kW input product was more efficient and provided the same heat output as gas or traditional storage heaters with a higher input, for example 3.4 kW.
Because we had not seen evidence to support the claim that Fischer Future Heat’s products were “low input for total efficiency” in comparison with gas or other storage heaters we concluded the claim had not been substantiated and was therefore misleading.
On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.11 (Exaggeration) and 3.33 (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).
We considered that the claim “Our survey is designed to save you money … find out how much you could save” would be understood by consumers to mean that after an assessment of a property and its required heating needs by Fischer Future Heat a consumer could, if the recommendations were implemented, save money on their energy bills. However, Fischer Future Heat did not provide any evidence which showed that consumers had been able to save money by following their survey recommendations.
Because Fischer Future Heat had not provided evidence to support their claim that their survey would save consumers money, we concluded the claim had not been substantiated and was therefore misleading.
On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Fischer Future Heat UK Ltd not to claim in the absence of adequate substantiation that their products were low input for total efficiency compared with gas or other storage heaters or that they could save consumers money on their heating bills.