A website for a mobile phone unlocking service, www.officialiphoneunlock.co.uk, seen on 19 January 2017, featured a number of testimonials on a page headed "Customer Reviews of Official iPhone Unlock", which stated “We don’t write our own reviews, instead we let our customers do the talking. Our services are also used by some of the moderators at the well-respected website ModMyi.com. All of the testimonials gave a rating of either four or five stars out of five”.
Seven complainants challenged whether the testimonials were genuine.
Official iPhone Unlock Ltd did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Official iPhone Unlock Ltd’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 provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We considered that consumers would expect the testimonials featured on the website to be the genuine views of Official iPhone Unlock customers. We understood that the complainants believed that the reviews on the website did not reflect the experiences of genuine customers, and that negative reviews they had submitted had not been published on the website. We further noted that the website terms and conditions set out a defamation charge clause amounting to £3,000, which we considered would be likely to deter customers from leaving negative reviews.
In the absence of any evidence to demonstrate that the testimonials on the Official iPhone Unlock website were from genuine customers, and that the advertiser had not removed negative reviews, we concluded that the ad 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 3.45 3.45 Marketers must hold documentary evidence that a testimonial or endorsement used in a marketing communication is genuine, unless it is obviously fictitious, and hold contact details for the person who, or organisation that, gives it. (Endorsements and testimonials).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Official iPhone Unlock Ltd to ensure that they held evidence to demonstrate that the testimonials featured on their website were genuine. We also told them not to unreasonably remove negative reviews from their website. We referred the matter to CAP’s Compliance team.