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”.
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.
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.
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
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 3.17 3.17 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product featured in the marketing communication.
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.