The website, www.point-less.co.uk, seen on 20 October 2017, promoted their service of cancelling parking and speeding tickets for motorists. On a page headed "Success Stories", the website showed a screenshot of a partly redacted email from Hampshire Constabulary with the claim "CANCELLED" appearing across the email. The text of the email stated "I can confirm that the notice number you refer to, regarding an alleged offence (redacted) was listed for Court last year. As the postal requisition could not be served at that time, the matter was withdrawn at Court".
Road Safety Support on behalf of Hampshire Police, who understood that the parking ticket had been cancelled prior to the involvement of Point-Less, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Person(s) unknown t/a www.point-less.co.uk did not provide a substantive response to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA noted that there was no registered legal entity behind the website www.point-less.co.uk and the registrant of the website had used a domain privacy service to set up the website which concealed their identity. We were concerned by point-less.co.uk’s lack of a substantive 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 substantive response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We noted that the email from Hampshire police included the text “the matter was withdrawn at Court” and appeared alongside the claim “CANCELLED” and on a page headed “Success Stories”. We considered that consumers would understand from the ad that the penalty notice had been cancelled because Point-less had intervened.
We understood from Road Safety Support and Hampshire Police, however, that the penalty notice had already been cancelled prior to receiving correspondence from Point-less and that the correspondence from Point-less would not in any case have caused them to have withdrawn the notice. Point-less did not provide any evidence that the notice was withdrawn as a result of their involvement. We therefore concluded that the ad was 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) and 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).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told point-less.co.uk to remove the email from the “Success Stories” web page and not to imply that penalty notices had been cancelled as a result of their involvement, when that was not the case. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance Team.