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Product: Business Service
Advertiser: Teleperformance Contact Limited (TLS Contact)
Medium: Internet (Company Website)
The advertising offering various services to people seeking UK visas referred to the following:
“Welcome to the UK Visa Application Centre in Ireland”.
One of the services on offer related to a Settlement Priority Visa and contained the following information:
“Settlement Priority Visa Service €641.35
UK Visas & Immigration offers a standard 60 working day service to customers applying for a settlement visa. The Settlement Priority Visa Service ensures that your application will be processed at the front of the queue. We aim to process Settlement Priority Visas within 15 working days from the date of your appointment at the UK Visa Application Centre.
Please note: Using the Priority Visa Service will not influence the outcome of your visa application. The Priority Visa fee is not refundable if your visa application is refused or in the unlikely event we are not able to meet the advertised processing time…”
The complainant said that he considered the advertising to be misleading. He said the wording used implied that he would receive his visa quicker than if he applied for it through the regular application channel which may take up to 60 days. The complainant said he paid €672.22 for the ‘Priority’ service but was granted his visa 74 days after application.
The complainant said he paid for a service which had not been provided to him and that if he had applied for his visa through the regular channel he may have received it in a lesser or similar period of time.
The advertisers said Teleperformance Contact Limited (TLS Contact) was the commercial partner of UK Visa & Immigration (UKVI) operating in the Republic of Ireland for the collection of visa applications. They said, therefore, they were neither the company providing the related Priority Service, nor the ones who received the related fees for the service. They said whilst payment for the service was transacted via their website, the associated fees and service were wholly owned by UKVI. They considered, therefore, that they were not responsible for the advertising in question and pointed out that while it was published on their website, the advertising was in fact the responsibility of the UKVI.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Committee noted that while the text for the advertising claims was provided by UKVI, the claims appeared on the advertisers’ website and that they therefore had a responsibility for ensuring compliance with the Code.
They noted that the text had included a disclaimer to the effect that “The Priority Visa fee is not refundable if your visa application is refused or in the unlikely event we are not able to meet the advertised processing time”. Whilst accepting that circumstances could arise that would result in a longer than expected processing times, the Committee considered that there should be evidence to show that such situations were uncommon. The Committee noted that substantiation in relation to the processing times had not been submitted and in the circumstances, considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.9 and 4.10.
The advertisement should not be used in its current format again in the absence of substantiation.