Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
Claims on get.verisure.co.uk, seen on 19 December 2021, promoted Verisure Smart Alarms. Text stated, “The Best Alarm Technology on the Market”. Text further down the page stated, “The Best Alarm System in the UK”, and included a table comparing Verisure against three other companies against various criteria.
The complainant challenged whether the claim “The Best Alarm Technology on the Market” was:
1. misleading and could be substantiated; and
1 & 2.Verisure Services (UK) Ltd said they were the largest provider of security alarms for homes and small businesses in Europe, with over 4 million customers in 16 countries, and one of the only alarm companies in the UK that provided professional alarm installation, in-house 24/7 alarm monitoring, and a geographical footprint offering services across 98% of the UK population.
They said they believed that their investment in product development meant that they could offer a number of unique products and features to consumers, including some which they held patents for, so were not available from other alarm system companies. They outlined a number of such features their services offered, and said that they believed the list supported their claim to have “The Best Alarm Technology on the Market.” They also said that they would work to improve the statement, to ensure it aligned with verifiable information.
Verisure said they tried to provide an accurate, up-to-date comparison table on their website, showing their services compared to the other nationwide monitored alarm suppliers in the UK. They said they regularly checked their competitors’ offerings for updates, and incorporated those into their table accordingly. Referring to the table at the time it was seen, Verisure said that they believed their comparison had been a fair and accurate representation of their services compared to the three competitor companies listed.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claims that Verisure offered “The Best Alarm Technology on the Market” to mean that their alarm systems were technologically superior to all other providers in the UK. We therefore expected to see evidence to demonstrate that was the case.
We acknowledged Verisure’s comments that they monitored the services and features offered by the companies used in the comparison table seen in the ad, in order to ensure it was up to date. We noted that in their response, they explained why they believed each point in the table demonstrated their systems superiority to their competitors.
However, we considered that a table outlining a relatively small number of features offered by Verisure, and stating that not all of those features were offered by the listed competitors, did not demonstrate that Verisure’s systems offered consumers the best alarm technology on the market.
The table only mentioned three other companies that provided alarm systems, and was therefore far from an exhaustive list of all the alarm systems available to UK consumers at the time.
For those reasons, we considered the evidence provided was not adequate to substantiate the claim that Verisure offered “The Best Alarm Technology on the Market”, as consumers were likely to understand it. We therefore concluded the ad was misleading.
On that point 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).
CAP Code rule 3.35 3.35 They must objectively compare one or more material, relevant, verifiable and representative feature of those products, which may include price. required that comparisons with identifiable competitors must be verifiable. That meant that an ad which featured a comparison with an identifiable competitor or competitors needed to include, or direct consumers to, sufficient information to allow them to understand the comparison, and be able to check the claims were accurate, or ask someone suitably qualified to do so.
The claim that Verisure offered “The Best Alarm Technology on the Market” featured near the top of the web page, in a box containing a photo of a Verisure alarm system. The box contained no information explaining why the technology was the best, or any links to other sources of information to support the claim.
The comparison table that mentioned three competitors was further down the web page, and showed four columns, listing 14 services offered by the respective systems. The column for Verisure’s product contained green ticks in each section, while the competitor columns contained a mixture of green ticks and red crosses, to denote services that Verisure offered, but the listed competitors did not. At the bottom of the table was a summary of the Trustpilot scores for each organisation, at the time the ad was seen. However, the ad did not provide any information to ensure consumers were able to check the comparative claim, nor did it include a signpost to information on the basis of that comparison.
Because the ad did not allow consumers to verify the comparison, we concluded that the claim that Verisure offered “The Best Alarm Technology on the Market” was not verifiable, and therefore breached the Code.
On that point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules and 3.33 3.33 Marketing communications that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, the consumer about either the advertised product or the competing product. and 3.35 3.35 They must objectively compare one or more material, relevant, verifiable and representative feature of those products, which may include price. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Verisure Services (UK) Ltd to ensure that they had adequate substantiation to support claims, including comparisons with identifiable competitors, in their marketing materials. We also told them to ensure that, in future, consumers were able to verify comparisons against identifiable competitors made in their advertising.