A website for a claims management company, http://www2.helpyourclaim.com, seen on 30 November 2016, stated on the home page that they worked “on a strictly no win, no fee basis”.
The “Apply Online” web page was headlined “Mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance with Your Bank?” and stated “Your Bank may have mis-sold you a payment protection insurance policy, which may mean you are entitled to a refund. Our average customer receives £2,700! We handle the whole claims process for you from beginning to end, and strictly work on a no-win, no-fee basis - if we are not 100% successful in claiming you a refund you do not have to pay us a penny!”.
The “Questions” web page stated, under point 7, “On success of your claim, HYC will charge a 30% fee + VAT on all amounts received. Our charges apply to the total value of the compensation received. For example, if you receive a settlement figure of £1000, you would be required to pay us £300 + VAT. At the current rate of 20% this would mean a total payment to HYC of £360, leaving you with £640. If your claim is unsuccessful there will be no fee”.
Lloyds Banking Group challenged whether the claim “Our average customer receives £2,700!” was misleading and could be substantiated.
Help Your Claim Ltd did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Help Your Claim’s lack of substantive response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a substantive response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We considered that, consumers would interpret the claim “Our average customer receives £2,700!” to refer to the average of the final amount of compensation claimants had received following the deduction of the advertiser’s fee and VAT. While we noted that the website explained that fees and VAT would be payable, that information was set out on a separate web page, and was not positioned near, and did not refer to, the claim “Our average customer receives £2,700!”. On that basis, we did not consider that the fee information altered the impression that £2,700 was the average of the final amount of compensation claimants had received. The fee information also did not explain that successful claims would be subject to the deduction of other applicable taxes, and that information did not seem to appear anywhere else on the website. We considered that it was material information for the consumer to know that an average claim was subject to the deduction of applicable taxes, and therefore it needed to be made clear in the ad.
Because we had not seen any evidence to substantiate the claim that the average Help Your Claim customer received £2,700 after the deduction of fees and VAT, and because the ad did not make clear that the figure was subject to the deduction of other applicable taxes, we concluded that the claim was unsubstantiated and misleading.
The ads 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) and 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).
The claim must not appear again in its current form. We told Help Your Claim Ltd to make clear that taxes and fees applied when quoting average gross compensation figures and that they held substantiation for an average compensation claim. We referred the matter to CAP’s Compliance team.