A paid-for Facebook post and two websites for EcoFunding Plan, an energy efficient window upgrade company.
a. The post, seen on 30 August 2018, featured text which stated “Over One Hundred Million pounds of funding is available for homeowners to upgrade their windows to brand new A+ Rated Energy Efficient Windows. Find out today if you qualify for free window funding today …”. An “APPLY NOW” button was at the bottom of the page.
b. The first website, www.ecofundingplan.co.uk, also seen on 30 August 2018 stated similar text on the home page accompanied by a consumer contact details form to apply for funding.
c. The second website, www.ecofundingplan.com, seen on 26 November 2018 stated the same claims along with a form to apply for funding.
The complainant challenged whether the claim “Over One Hundred Million pounds of funding is available for homeowners to upgrade their windows”, was misleading and could be substantiated.
Person(s) unknown t/a Ecofundingplan.co.uk and Ecofundingplan.com did not provide a substantive response to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA noted that there was no registered legal entity behind the websites www.ecofundingplan.co.uk and www.ecofundingplan.com, and the registrant of the websites had used a domain privacy service to set up the websites which concealed their identity.
We were concerned by ecofundingplan.com and ecofundingplan.co.uk’s lack of substantive response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7. 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 ads (a), (b) and (c) all contained the same claim, “Over One Hundred Million pounds of funding is available for homeowners to upgrade their windows to brand new A+ Rated Energy Efficient Windows. Find out today if you qualify for free window funding today”. We considered that consumers would understand the claim to mean that a significant amount of funds had been set aside and was available for consumers to apply for to upgrade their windows to A-rated energy efficient windows.
However, we noted that there was no information provided in the ads as to where the funds were held and who controlled the funds or their allocation. Because the advertiser had not demonstrated that over one hundred million pounds of funding was available for consumers to upgrade their windows, we concluded that the claim had not been substantiated and 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 ads must not appear again in their current form. We told www.ecofundingplan.co.uk and www.ecofundingplan.com not to mislead consumers by stating that they had access to funds to upgrade windows if that was not the case and to ensure they held adequate substantiation before making such claims. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.