Ad description

The website copyright.co.uk, seen in August 2019, promoted their service of maintaining private records of copyrights. The home page showed various plan options in text boxes in the centre of the page. The first box was titled, “CREATOR PLAN”. Text below the headline stated, “1 copyright registration: …Secure Storage 30 years by the notary included…£42”.

Issue

Copyright Witness, who understood that the £42 was an annual subscription rather than a one-off fee, challenged whether the price claim “£42” was misleading.

Response

Objective Concept t/a copyright.co.uk said that the £42 figure was for a one-year subscription. They stated that the Sales Conditions explained that the subscription renewed each year. They said that the subscription was an annual fee to keep the account open. They added that the ongoing subscription was not mandatory as customers could close an account at any time.

Assessment

Upheld The ASA considered that, in the absence of information to the contrary, consumer and business customers would interpret £42 to be a one-off payment. However, we understood that if customers purchased a plan they would automatically enrol onto an annual subscription service, where every year they would be committed to pay £42 if they did not cancel. We considered that it was not made clear to customers that they would be entering into an annual subscription for the service. We considered that level of commitment was material information likely to influence a customer’s transactional decision and needed to be made sufficiently clear from the outset. Because customers would understand £42 to be a one-off payment, when it was actually a recurring annual subscription figure, we concluded that it was misleading. The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules  3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.  and  3.3 3.3 Ofcom must ensure that the standards from time to time in force under this section include:

a) minimum standards applicable to all programmes included in television and radio services; and

b) such other standards applicable to particular descriptions of programmes, or of television and radio services, as appeared to them appropriate for securing the standards objectives."
Section 319(5).
 (Misleading advertising) and  3.17 3.17 Advertisements must not explicitly claim that the advertiser's job or livelihood is in jeopardy if consumers do not buy the advertised product or service.  

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Objective Concept t/a copyright.co.uk to ensure that they did not misleadingly imply that a price was a one-off payment if it was a subscription.

BCAP Code

3.1     3.3     3.17    

CAP Code (Edition 12)

3.1     3.3     3.17    


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