The website www.timesharesolutionsltd.com, a company specialising in timeshare relinquishment, featured a number of testimonials.
KwikChex Ltd, as part of the Timeshare Task Force initiative, challenged whether the testimonials by "Steve", Mrs P Swift, Vicky Tomgue and Mrs Wilson were genuine because they understood the same testimonials appeared on another website for another timeshare claims company under different names.
Timeshare Solutions Ltd said in a telephone call that they could understand the similarities between the testimonials that appeared on both their website and on timesharerelease.co.uk. They said this was down to the fact that they both operated in the same industry – timeshare relinquishment.
In a further telephone call, Timeshare Solutions said they were not sure if they still held the testimonials because they were provided in 2014. However, they explained that they had the contact details for the people who given the testimonials and who would be able to confirm that they had used the advertisers' service.
The ASA acknowledged that Timeshare Solutions said they held contact details for those who had given the testimonials. However, the Code required advertisers to hold documentary evidence to demonstrate that testimonials used in their advertising were genuine, to hold contact details for the people who gave them, and that testimonials must relate to the advertised product. We therefore considered they needed to provide us with the original testimonials together with the contact details of those who had given them, as well as supporting documentary evidence to demonstrate those details were genuine such as correspondence between Timeshare Solutions and those who had given the testimonials. In the absence of such evidence, we considered Timeshare Solutions were unable to demonstrate the testimonials were genuine or that they related to their services. Therefore, we concluded that the use of the testimonials on their website 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), 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), 3.45 3.45 Marketers must hold documentary evidence that a testimonial or endorsement used in a marketing communication is genuine, unless it is obviously fictitious, and hold contact details for the person who, or organisation that, gives it. and 3.46 3.46 Testimonials must relate to the advertised product. (Testimonials and Endorsements).
The testimonials must not appear again. We told Timeshare Solutions Ltd to ensure they held evidence to demonstrate that the testimonials used in their advertising were genuine and related to their service.