A sponsored tweet from a regional press publication's Twitter account and a website for claims management company Stanton Fisher, seen on 1 February 2016:
a. The tweet stated “Stanton Fisher help you claim back the maximum PPI refund” and included an image with text that stated "AVERAGE PPI COMPENSATION PACKAGE: £3,320".
b. The home page of the website www.stantonfisher.com, contained text that stated "PPI by numbers Interesting statistics about PPI claims and our performance ... £3,320 average client compensation package".
Lloyds Banking Group challenged whether the claims "AVERAGE PPI COMPENSATION PACKAGE: £3,320" and "£3,320 average client compensation package" were misleading and could be substantiated.
Stanton Fisher Ltd provided two spreadsheet documents in support of the claims. The first included an overview of the number of clients they had, the total value of the PPI compensation package each of their clients had received (from all lenders, across all PPI claims a client had submitted through Stanton Fisher) and the number of PPI claims involved in each compensation package. The second document provided a specific breakdown of the value offered in each individual PPI claim for each client. They explained that tax was deducted from the total value offered per claim in accordance with HMRC requirements, together with their fees at 33% of that total, inclusive of VAT.
They stated that the documents showed that the average client compensation package was £3,395.79, which was in excess of the advertised figure, and believed that the evidence fully substantiated the claims.
The ASA considered that “package” in the claims “average PPI compensation package” and “average client compensation package” was likely to be understood as potentially consisting of multiple PPI claims. We considered that consumers were likely to interpret the claims to mean that £3,320 was the average of the final totals Stanton Fisher’s clients had received after making successful claims, as of February 2016.
We noted that some of the data post-dated the time the complainant saw the ad, and therefore affected the overall average. Nevertheless, we also noted from the evidence that the average figure quoted in the ads was calculated from the total of the amounts lenders had offered each client in settlement, whereas we understood the amount received by each client was less, because fees, including VAT, and relevant taxes were deducted. We considered that the fact that compensation amounts offered by lenders were subject to Stanton Fisher’s fees at 33%, inclusive of VAT, and other taxes, was material information that consumers needed in order to make an informed decision as to whether or not to pursue PPI claims through Stanton Fisher. However, it was not clear from the ads that compensation amounts were subject to such fees.
Because, in light of that omission, the ads implied that £3,320 was the average amount that clients would receive after making successful claims, but that was not the case, we concluded that ads (a) and (b) were misleading.
The ads 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).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Stanton Fisher to ensure that similar future claims did not state or imply that the figures stated related to amount that their clients eventually received, if that was not the case.