A radio ad, for a Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) claims company, stated "2000? 4000? Just how much are you costing yourself by not checking if you were mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance? You could be in line for thousands of pounds, but only if you claim in time. Because if you don't have the paperwork, time is running out. So whether or not you still have the paperwork, call the Payment Protection Partnership to check if you have a claim, on a no-win, no-fee basis."
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading and could be substantiated, because they understood there was no deadline for filing a claim about the mis-selling of PPI.
Payment Protection Partnership Ltd (PPP) said that when six years had elapsed, policy providers were not obliged to give them details about their clients if there was no paperwork.
The Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC) said the claim was based on the advertiser demonstrating that companies had to keep paperwork relating to policies which included PPI for six years, and that after that time, consumers must be able to prove details of the agreement themselves. The claim was therefore qualified by the statements "if you claim in time. Because if you don't have the paperwork, time is running out".
The ASA understood that consumers needed to contact their policy provider, or the independent financial advisor (IFA) who had arranged the policy, in order to claim for mis-sold PPI. If they were not satisfied by their response, they could refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsmen Service (FOS) for adjudication. We understood the FOS had time limits in place for consumers to refer complaints. That is, complaints to the FOS should be referred within six months from the policy provider or IFA sending the consumer a final response to their complaint, and within six years from the event the consumer was complaining about or, if later, three years from when the consumer knew, or could reasonably have known, that they had cause to complain. We noted there were no specific time-bar rules for referring PPI complaints and also noted that the FOS might take account of any exceptional circumstances which had caused a complaint to be referred out of time and waive the time limits in those cases.
We noted PPP and the RACC's comments with regard to policy providers having to keep records for six years, although we understood that providers were required to keep paperwork for six years following the end of the policy agreement rather than from the date on which the agreement was made. We also understood that a lack of paperwork did not necessarily prevent a consumer from bringing a complaint to the FOS, as there might be other means or evidence available to reconstruct the nature of the policy and look into the matter.
Although we understood that there were notional time limits in place and that it might therefore be advisable to avoid delaying a complaint referral, we also considered the claim "You could be in line for thousands of pounds, but only if you claim in time. Because if you don't have the paperwork, time is running out" implied there was a definitive deadline by which consumers must make a PPI claim if they no longer held paperwork relating to the policy, and considered that the ad overstated the urgency for referring a complaint through PPP. We therefore concluded the ad was misleading.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is 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).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.