An email containing a digital brochure and case studies for Maximus Green Ltd, a provider of magnetic fuel conditioning systems, seen in August 2018.
The brochure included various statements about the benefits of their "eeMGee" products including "... eeMGee breaks apart these molecule clusters and provides a much cleaner burn. This results in requiring less fuel to do the same amount of work and a reduction in burner deposits, which helps lower otherwise costly maintenance ..." and "... Proven Technology Independently Verfied by CSA Group ... eeMGee increased the efficiency of the appliance from 89.55% to 90.97% ...".
The case studies related to a care home, a swimming pool, a hospital and Council offices. Claims regarding the efficiency of the eeMGee products included "Since implementation of eeMGee to the Thermostatically Controlled Boilers at [the care home][they] have seen a saving of 19.88% ..."; "Since implementation of eeMGee to the Thermostatically Controlled Boilers at [the swimming pool] they have seen a saving of 19.3% ..."; "Since implementation of the technology on the Boiler systems, [the hospital] has reduced its gas consumption for one boiler house by 20.92% ..."; and "Since implementation of eeMGee to the Thermostatically Controlled Boilers at the Council Offices, [the Council] has seen a saving of 12.15% ...".
The complainant challenged whether the claims, in the brochure and the case studies, that the product could reduce fuel usage and therefore improve the efficiency of boilers were misleading and could be substantiated.
Maximus Green provided the testing procedure they had used for their product – the ASHRAE 103-1993 Standard, developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air Conditioning Engineers, Inc. The purpose of the Standard was to provide procedures for determining the annual fuel utilisation efficiency of residential central furnaces and boilers. The Standard included a test method for cyclic and part-load performance, methods for interpolating and extrapolating test data, and calculating procedures for establishing seasonal performance.
They explained that the Standard measured annual fuel utilisation efficiency (AFUE) which was a thermal efficiency measure of space-heating furnaces and boilers. They said the AFUE differed from the true 'thermal efficiency' in that it was not a steady-state, peak measure of conversion efficiency, but instead it represented the actual, season-long, average efficiency of that piece of equipment, including the operating transients. It was a dimensionless ratio of useful energy output to energy input, expressed as a percentage. The product was tested under parameters of less than 0.1% movement on any measurable area.
The ASA had previously assessed evidence submitted by Maximus Green in relation to claims that their product could reduce fuel usage in gas and oil powered heating systems and found it did not substantiate those claims. In reaching that conclusion, we had evaluated a body of evidence which included a test report which stated that the annual AFUE of the furnaces increased by 1.42% when the device was installed and were concerned that was an extremely small increase and that no analysis of the statistical significance of that result had been provided, including any consideration as to whether it was greater than any margin of error associated with the method of measurement. We had also had concerns that no information regarding the methodology of the test had been provided.
We noted that Maximus Green had now provided information about the testing protocol that was used in that report. They also confirmed that they had not carried out any further testing since then. In the absence of any new evidence, and given our concerns in the previous case about the extremely small increase in annual AFUE and the lack of statistical analysis on the results, we considered that they had not substantiated the claims, in the brochure and the case studies, that the product could reduce fuel usage and therefore improve the efficiency of boilers. We therefore concluded that the claims were misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 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) and 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Maximus Green not to make claims that their product could reduce fuel usage and therefore improve the efficiency of boilers unless they held adequate substantiation for those claims.