A website for muscle formula, www.powerprecisiontrial.com/newformula/uk, stated "Hurry! Limited time special! ... See if you qualify for our trial program ... where do we send your trial order? Please enter shipping details" above a web form. Small print at the bottom of the page stated "Try Power Precision absolutely free, just pay a small shipping and handling fee. Your credit card will be charged shipping & handling for a 1 Month Supply of Power Precision. You will have 14 days from your original order date to decide if Power Precision is right for you. If you are enjoying Power Precision do nothing and at the end of your 14 day trial period you will be charged the low rate of only £69.95 for the bottle you received. Approximately 30 days from your original purchase date and every 30 days thereafter you will be sent another 1 month supply of Power Precision and your credit card on file will be billed for £69.95 plus shipping and handling … Membership in the maintenance program may be cancelled at any time by calling customer service at [phone number] UK Toll Free". The form linked to a payment page, which also included the same small print.
The complainant, who did not believe the ad made sufficiently clear that consumers would automatically be charged on an ongoing basis if they did not cancel within 14 days, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Izef LLC t/a Powerprecisiontrials.com (Izef LLC) did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Izef LLC's lack of 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 respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The ASA noted the small print at the bottom of the landing page, and that on the following payment page, gave information about the terms and conditions of the 'trial'. However, on the landing page those terms and conditions appeared in small text at the bottom of a long web page and there was nothing to indicate to consumers that they would find terms and conditions at the bottom of the web page. The placing of the terms and conditions on the payment page was more prominent because the web page was much shorter, but they were also in small print. We considered the qualification that consumers would automatically be charged on an ongoing basis if they did not cancel within 14 days was significant material information that needed to be made clear and drawn to the attention of consumers at the outset. Because the terms and conditions were not sufficiently prominent on the landing page we therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad 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), 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. and 3.10 3.10 Qualifications must be presented clearly.
CAP has published a Help Note on Claims that Require Qualification. (Qualification) and 3.23 3.23 Marketing communications must make clear the extent of the commitment the consumer must make to take advantage of a "free" offer. (Free).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Izef to make clear in their marketing that consumers would automatically be charged on an ongoing basis if they did not cancel.