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Product: Hearing Aids
Advertiser: Audiology Medical Services (AMS)
Medium: Internet (Company Website), Press
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.10, 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.20, 11.4
The advertising referred to the following:
“Don’t buy a hearing aid until you have tried Lyric risk-free for 28 days
Audiological Medical Services 1800…. Make your appointment today! Free 28 day trial.
AMS is the only professionally audited hearing centre in Munster…”
“Audiology Medical Services
Trusted by medical professionals, (E.N.T. Consultants, G.P.’s and hospitals) throughout Cork…
Comprehensive hearing tests
Comprehensive auditory testing using best practice protocols and the most modern equipment in order that we completely understand your hearing loss…
Proud To Be a Consultant Approved Hearing Aid Centre”
The above information was accompanied by a logo which read:
“ Consultant Approved”
The advertisement under the headline “Independent Auditing” referred to the following:
Best practice constantly evolves and therefore as a Consultant Approved Site we have committed to an external audit of our centre by an independent assessor every year”.
Social Media Post:
“The best #HearingAid solutions in #Cork #Kerry #Limerick #Waterford #Kilkenny http://www.audiologymedicalservices.ie/our-hearing-aids.
Best hearing aid prices in cork, Munster and Leinster www…
Best hearing aid prices in Cork, Munster & Leinster”
The complainants, Specsavers, raised concerns in relation to the advertising in each media.
1. Complaint re Press
Specsavers, said that there was no national auditing standard for audiology in Ireland and queried how the advertisers could substantiate the claim that they were “the only professionally audited hearing centre in Munster”. They considered that this statement was likely to lead to confusion that the Industry was regulated when in fact it was not and also that the advertisers were the only service provider in Munster which met this required standard; which was a non-existent requirement.
2. Complaint re Website
Specsavers said that the advertisers’ website referred to the fact that they were “Consultant Approved” and referred to an annual external audit each year of their centre by an “independent assessor”. Specsavers said there was no information provided, however, as to the identity of the “independent assessor”. Likewise, they said, there was no indication given as to the identity of the Consultants who had approved the services of the company. The impression created by the advertisement, they said, was that it was those referred to at the top of the advertising i.e. G.P.’s and medical consultants employed in hospitals throughout Cork who had approved the services.
The complainants also said, however, that while the origin of the reference to ‘Consultant Approved’ was unclear there was a reference to the fact that it may have been awarded by a hearing aid manufacturer, Phonak (a supplier to AMS), on the basis of audits, perhaps undertaken by a reference to a set of standards set by a UK based advisory panel. This information was, they said, unclear in content and misleading to consumers.
3. Complaint re Social Media Post
Specsavers queried whether the advertisers could substantiate the claim that they had the “Best hearing aid prices in Cork, Munster and Leinster”?
1. Complaint re Press advertising
The advertisers strenuously disagreed that their press advertising would lead a reasonable individual to believe that their company was in the first instance regulated or in the second instance, the only recognised regulated entity. They said the service provided by them was essentially a health service which some may presume to be regulated, while others may consider that it ought to be regulated. They said, however, that there was nothing in their advertising to suggest that their company was a regulated industry.
2. Complaint re Website
The advertisers said they prided themselves on the fact that they offered the highest level of patient care. As a Consultant Approved Hearing Centre, they were required to follow the very highest standards of audiological and customer care as specified by an external independent advisory panel. They said they were also audited each year by the Advisory Panel. They said the “Consultant Approved” logo could only be used by businesses who had passed the annual audit and continued to maintain the highest level of professional standards.
The Executive noted that the members of the Advisory Panel comprised of individuals mainly in the fields of audiology, science and business and that the Panel was based in the UK.
3. Complaint re Social Media Post
The advertisers did not comment on or provide substantiation for their reference to the fact that they had the “Best hearing aid prices in Cork, Munster and Leinster”?
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee expressed their concern at the advertisers’ failure to respond to the complaint in relation to the advertising on their Facebook page. They reminded them that there is an onus on advertisers to ensure that their advertising is in conformity with the Code.
Complaint 1 - Press
The Complaints Committee noted that while the advertising had not made any reference to the company being a ‘regulated’ entity per se, in referring to the fact that they were “the only professionally audited hearing centre in Munster” there was a strong suggestion that they had received a required approval for their services that other providers had not. The Committee noted that this approval was not a regulatory necessity and considered that some consumers may interpret the service feature to mean the business was registered, and may inadvertently enter a transaction on that basis.
Complaint one upheld.
Complaint 2 - Website
The Complaints Committee considered the claim “A Consultant Approved Hearing Aid Centre”. In the context of it appearing in Irish media, they considered that it would be understood to involve an Irish based approval process. As this was not to the case, the Committee considered the web advertising to be in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.20 of the Code.
Complaint two upheld.
Complaint 3 – Social Media
As the advertisers had not responded to or provided substantiation for their claim to have the “Best hearing aid prices in Cork, Munster & Leinster”, the Complaints Committee upheld the complaint under Sections 3.10, 4.1, 4.4 and 4.9 of the Code.
Complaint three upheld.
The advertising should not appear in the same format again.