Claims on a website, www.paidoffers.co.uk, stated "Earn up to £25 a day Earn cash from home By completing our online offers in your spare time". Below that was further text, which stated "START EARNING NOW" and a "SIGN UP TODAY" button, which users could click on to register their details.
Further down the page, text stated "What are our members up to? Take a sneak peak below on what our members have been up to. Check out who is currently earning huge amounts of money via our Leaderboard and Newsfeed … Join now to be a part of PaidOffers". Below this was a leader board, which showed ten members who had earned between £1555.00 and £1845.00.
The complainant challenged whether the earnings claims were misleading and could be substantiated.
Submission Technology Ltd t/a Paidoffers.co.uk considered that their website made sufficiently clear how users could earn up to £25 a day by completing their online offers.
Paidoffers.co.uk referred to the FAQ section of their website, which stated "We will present you with 26 offers to complete, you will be able to see your cash reward balance grow. Once you have completed 26 offers and they have all been validated you will be able to cash out. Your cash will be paid via PayPal or in the form of Amazon vouchers".
Paidoffers.co.uk also referred to the disclaimer which appeared on the top of the terms and conditions page, which stated "Individual results (Cash rewards) are dependent on the offers you complete. The Rewards Program involves the payment of commission to us by participating advertisers in respect of your approved transactions for which we credit you with cash. You must complete all 26 offers and they must be validated by the participating advertisers to receive and withdraw your cash reward". The terms and conditions also clarified the requirements for "Approved Transactions". Paidoffers.co.uk, therefore, considered that their website made sufficiently clear that users would earn the quoted cash reward per offer provided that all 26 offers were completed and reported as valid by their advertising partners.
Paidoffers.co.uk provided a spreadsheet identifying 15 users, with data showing their joining date, payout date and earnings. They stated that users could decide how long they wanted to take to complete all 26 offers, which could be from a single day to a period of months. They said that there were offers in which it could take a considerable amount of time for a user's transaction to be validated, and when that was known it was disclosed on the offer details page, but users were given a choice of which offers they wanted to pursue.
The spreadsheet showed the total and average earnings (spread over the 26 offers) for each named user. Paidoffers.co.uk stated that on average, a user would take less than two hours to review and complete each offer and worked out the earnings per hour for each user by dividing the total earnings by 52 hours (2 hours for each of the 26 offer). The spreadsheet showed that, based on this calculation, users made hourly earnings of £15.38 to £27.40. Paidoffers.co.uk also stated that, based on a 6-hour working day, this 52-hour total amounted to 8.6 days of work. They said that this calculation showed that the users they had provided details for made daily earnings of £92.31 to £164.42.
The ASA acknowledged that the FAQ and terms and conditions pages explained that users had to complete all 26 offers, which had to be validated by the advertiser, before they received any payment. However, the PaidOffers home page stated "Earn up to £25 a day Earn cash from home By completing our online offers in your spare time", along with further text saying "START EARNING NOW". We considered that, in the absence of any qualifying text, most users would interpret the claims to mean that if they signed up to the scheme and regularly completed offers on a day-to-day basis, they could expect to receive a daily earning of up to £25.
We noted that there were offers where the advertiser would take a considerable amount of time to validate a user's transaction and that this would be disclosed before a user would make a decision to proceed with a particular offer. However, the data provided by Paidoffers.co.uk showed that it took between 176 and 509 days for the users to complete the terms of the offers and receive payment. We had not seen robust documentary evidence demonstrating how long users spent completing offers. We considered that the advertiser's method of calculating daily earnings (dividing total payment by the amount of time it was assumed to take to complete the offers and pro-rating this into a daily total) was insufficient grounds on which to base daily earnings claims for a process that took, according to the information provided, a minimum of 176 days to complete.
Therefore, because the ad implied that users would regularly earn up to £25 a day from the time they signed up and PaidOffers.co.uk had not provided evidence to show that any of their users had achieved this, we concluded that the earnings claims had not been substantiated and were therefore misleading.
The claims breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 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), 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration) and 20.4 20.4 Marketing communications for homework schemes must contain no forecast of earnings if the scheme is new. Marketers may state the likely level of earnings only if it can be supported with evidence of the experience of existing homeworkers. Marketers must not exaggerate the support available to homeworkers. (Homework schemes).
The earnings claims must not appear again in their current form. We told Submission Technology Ltd to ensure that they did not make earnings claims in their advertising unless they had sufficient evidence to substantiate the claims.