A website for Montessori Tutors, montessoritutors.co.uk, seen in November 2020, displayed the headline “JOB AS A MONTESSORI TUTOR” with the sub-title beneath which stated “Part-time Job. Train to be a Montessori Tutor & earn £32k +”. The paragraph below stated “Are you looking for jobs online? Would you like to become a Private Tutor and earn an average of £625 per week? If so, we are looking for motivated and enthusiastic individuals to partner with us and deliver Maths & English lessons online”.
IssueThe complainant challenged whether the earning claims “Part-time Job. Train to be a Montessori Tutor & earn £32k+” and “Would you like to become a Private Tutor and earn an average of £625 per week” were misleading and could be substantiated.
Learning Group Ltd t/a Montessori Tutors stated that the training provided by them was to equip individuals to tutor online or face-to-face. Montessori Tutors explained that the tutors were considered self-employed and how much they earned was dependant on how successful their advertising was and how many hours they tutored. Montessori Tutors believed that it was possible to earn the stated amount by providing online tuition, dependent on experience, location and success rate. They stated that according to one job information website, it was reasonable for tutors to earn £30-£42 per hour, which was higher than the figure shown on their website.
Montessori Tutors stated that according to the figures on the website, it was possible to earn a salary of over £32,000 working part-time. They explained that the mean hourly rate from the figure on the job website was £36 per hour. They calculated that a 20-hour week at that rate would earn a tutor £720 per week. They explained that if they allowed four weeks annual leave a year, the sum would be multiplied by 48 weeks to achieve a gross annual salary of £34,560.
Montessori Tutors also provided a link to a news article on another jobs website that stated an average rate of £31.34 per hour, which they calculated would equate to £30,000 per annum for a 20-hour week. Montessori Tutors provided a link to a further two news articles. The first estimated a rate of £41-£55 per hour for private tutors. Montessori Tutors calculated that the salary equated to £39,400-£52,800 per annum for a 20-hour week. The second article stated that the average self-employed private tutor rate was £15-£41 per hour. Montessori Tutors used the figures of £29 and £41 per hour, which they said equated to £27,800 and £39,400 for a 20-hour week.
The website stated “Part-time Job. Train to be a Montessori Tutor & earn £32k+” and “Would you like to become a Private Tutor and earn an average of £625 per week. If so, we are looking for motivated and enthusiastic individuals to partner with us and deliver Maths & English lessons online”. The ASA considered that consumers would interpret the claim to mean that individuals who had completed the Montessori training offered via montessoritutors.co.uk and advertised their services via the website could earn £32,000 or more per year on a part-time basis. We also considered that, in the context, consumers would infer from the claim that a Montessori private tutor could expect to earn an average of £625 per week and that Montessori Tutors were recruiting tutors to advertise through their platform. We considered that prospective candidates looking at the ad would expect the earnings figures to be representative of the earnings of tutors who offered their services via Montessori Tutors. We therefore expected to see evidence that this was the case. However, we understood that the earning claims were actually based on ranges quoted in articles on a variety of different websites, which related to private tutors generally rather than tutors who taught the Montessori method.
We also noted that there were a number of factors which would likely affect the earning potential, such as experience and location, which were not made clear in the ad. We were not provided with evidence to demonstrate that the figures quoted in the ad were representative of those earned by tutors who partnered with Montessori Tutors. We considered that the claims “earn £32k+” and “an average of £625 per week”, as they were likely to be understood by the audience of the ad, had not been substantiated and therefore concluded they were misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
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.
Marketing communications for business opportunities must neither contain unrepresentative or overstated earnings figures nor exaggerate the support available to investors.
(Business opportunities) and
Marketing communications for vocational training or other instruction courses must not give a misleading impression about the potential for employment that might follow.
Marketing communications must make clear significant conditions for acceptance onto vocational training or instruction courses, such as the level of attainment, and significant conditions likely to affect a consumer's decision to embark on a course, such as the cost or the duration of a course. (Vocational training and instruction courses).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Learning Group Ltd t/a Montessori Tutors to ensure they held adequate substantiation for quoted earnings figures.