Ad description

A TV ad, for a car price quotation website, featured a voice-over which stated, "…you could get your online valuation in just 60 seconds. Just enter your reg number now at to see if you could get a great price". Scenes showed a couple and a man entering their registration numbers into the website, followed by scenes in which the website displayed quotes for their cars. Large on-screen text displayed at the end of the ad stated "Enter your reg number now".


The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading, because they felt it exaggerated the speed and ease of the process of obtaining a valuation.


Trusted Car Buyers Ltd said the process of obtaining an online valuation could be completed in around 30 to 35 seconds but they recognised that some people were not as technically-minded as others. The voice-over therefore instead stated that viewers "could" receive a quote in "just 60 seconds". They clarified that in order to receive a valuation, website users must provide other information as well as the vehicle's registration number.

Clearcast said they had discussed at length the workings of the valuation process with Trusted Car Buyers and were satisfied that the process of obtaining a valuation was simple and straightforward. They said that users did not have to open an account with Trusted Car Buyers or be previously registered, and it was not necessary for the vehicle to have previously been valued or checked on the website.

They said that website users were first required to enter their registration number. The website then returned a screen which, facilitated through a link to the DVLA database, automatically listed various details for the vehicle such as its make and model. They understood from the advertiser that this process was accurate 99% of the time. Website users were then asked four basic questions about the history of the vehicle: the mileage; the number of previous owners; the service history; and whether or not the vehicle had certain optional extras such as air conditioning. Users were also required to fill in basic contact details including their name, email, postcode, phone number and when they were hoping to sell the vehicle. Users were then presented with a valuation. Clearcast provided a copy of a document provided to them by Trusted Car Buyers which stated the amount of time they thought each step in the process would take, and three videos showing the process being completed in less than a minute

Clearcast said they were satisfied that the process was extremely quick and that it could be completed in under 60 seconds by most people. However, they had suggested during the ad clearance process that, as some people might be slower with technology, the voice-over should be amended to emphasise that viewers "could" get their online valuation in just 60 seconds in order to avoid suggesting that it would inevitably always take less than a minute. Trusted Car Buyers had incorporated that suggestion into the ad.

Clearcast said the ad did not show any of the people typing in their registration numbers and then immediately being shown a valuation. They thought the editing technique used, which intercut shots of the couple receiving a valuation with shots of the man receiving a valuation, was a reasonable creative device to use in the ad because they had seen substantiation which confirmed that the overall process of getting a valuation was fast and simple. They thought the ad did not exaggerate the speed and ease of obtaining a valuation with the advertiser.



The ASA considered that viewers would interpret the claims "…you could get your online valuation in just 60 seconds" and "Just enter your reg number now" in the voice-over, and the claim "Enter your reg number now" in on-screen text, to mean that they would only have to enter their registration number into the advertiser's website to obtain a valuation for their vehicle, and that this process would generally take around 60 seconds. While we acknowledged the ad did not show people entering their registration numbers and immediately receiving a valuation, we considered that because the visuals did not show any other part of the process, they reinforced the impression created by the voice-over that the only information that website users needed to provide was the vehicle registration number. Because that was not the case we considered the ad exaggerated the ease of the valuation process.

We considered we had seen evidence which demonstrated that it was possible to complete the online valuation process within one minute if website users had all the required information to hand. However, we considered that because the impression created by the ad was that users would only need to provide their registration number, it was likely that some users would not have all the additional required information to hand and would need to check some of the details, for example their vehicle's service history, before being able to complete the process and obtain a valuation. We considered it likely that some viewers would therefore not be able to complete the process within 60 seconds.

Because the ad implied that a valuation could be obtained by entering only a vehicle's registration number when additional information was required, and because as a result it was likely that for some consumers the process would take longer than 60 seconds, we concluded the ad exaggerated the ease and speed with which a valuation could be obtained. We concluded the ad therefore breached the Code.

The ad breached BCAP Code rules  3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.  and  3.2 3.2 Advertisements must not mislead consumers 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 consumers need in context to make informed decisions about whether or how to buy a product or service. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead consumers depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the advertisement is constrained by time or space, the measures that the advertiser takes to make that information available to consumers by other means.
 (Misleading advertising),  3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is 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), and  3.12 3.12 Advertisements must not mislead by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product or service.  (Exaggeration).


The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Trusted Car Buyers Ltd not to imply that a valuation could be obtained, within 60 seconds, by entering a vehicle's registration number only.


3.1     3.12     3.2     3.9    

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