Summary of Council decision:Three issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.
Claims on the website www.proacademichelp.co.uk, an essay writing service, seen on 18 March 2019, included text on the home page which stated “EXCELLENCE BEGINS HERE … There [sic] no better place than Proacademichelp.co.uk to get the best academic help- Professionals [sic] Assistance by highly qualified experts… FIRST ORDER DONE FOR FREE*”. Additional text stated “Quality Essays We don’t offer plagiarized or duplicate essay content. Our content is 100% original. Quality is what comes first for us”.
A page titled “Essay” included the text “Best Essays by Oxford and Cambridge Experts … We provide accurate and possibly best essays that are of highest standards. Our expert essayists make sure that they deliver you a first rate quality of essay … We make sure that you get a high quality topic specified essay. Our essay services are well known among our clients because of the exceptional essayists we have. The quality is guaranteed and also appreciated”.
1. The complainant challenged whether the claim “FIRST ORDER DONE FOR FREE*” was misleading and could be substantiated.
The ASA challenged whether:
2. the claim “best essays by Oxford and Cambridge experts” was misleading and could be substantiated; and
3. the website misleadingly implied that students could submit an essay they had bought as their own.
Person(s) Unknown t/a Proacademichelp.co.uk did not respond to the ASA’s enquires.
The ASA was concerned at proacademichelp.co.uk’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The CAP Code stated that marketing communications must make clear the extent of the commitment the consumer must make to take advantage of a "free" offer. The Code also required marketers, when making claims in their advertising, to state any significant limitations or qualifications. We noted that the claim “get your first order done for free*” did not contain any further qualifications or information about how a consumer could obtain their first order for free. We also understood that when the complainant enquired about obtaining the free offer on two separate occasions, they were informed of different conditions which applied. Because the claim did not include any further information about how to obtain the free order and we had not seen any evidence to show that the offer was genuine, we concluded that it was misleading and breached the Code.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Qualification) and 3.23 (Free).
We considered that consumers would understand the claim “best essays by Oxford and Cambridge experts”, to mean that students would receive essays of a high standard from individuals who had attended Oxford and Cambridge universities. We expected advertisers to provide substantiation for objective claims and because we had not seen such evidence we concluded that the claim was misleading.
On this point the ad breach CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
The home page of the website included a number of claims such as “Our expert essayists make sure that they deliver you a first rate quality of essay” and “We don’t offer plagiarized or duplicate essay content. Our content is 100% original”. Other services listed on the website included assignments and dissertations for a range of subjects including engineering, law and marketing.
We considered that consumers would understand that they could use proacademic’s essay service and submit the purchased essays as their own, particularly because of the claims that essays would be plagiarism-free.
We noted a disclaimer at the bottom of the web page in smaller text which stated that “Proacademichelp.co.uk is offering services pertaining to editing, proofreading, formatting and consultation through its website while ensuring to comply with the laws and ethical norms of the industry. We do NOT own any work given to us by clients. We do not offer any sort of writing services”. We considered that even if consumers had read the disclaimer, this was insufficient to counteract the claims on the website which stated that they provided non-plagiarised professionally composed essays for students, which we considered implied that they could be submitted by students as their own without repercussions. Because we understood from the ad that students could purchase and submit essays as their own without risks and the website did not make sufficiently clear that was not the case, we concluded that the claims were misleading.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).
The claims must not appear again in the form complained about. We told proacademichelp.co.uk not to state that they offered first orders for free unless they are able to demonstrate that the offer is genuine and they clearly state any significant conditions. We also told them not to use the claim “best essays by Oxford and Cambridge experts” and not to imply that students could submit an essay that they bought as their own without risks. The matter was referred to the CAP Compliance team.