The advertising was for Taxback.com’s tax refund service.
A man speaking to screen advised consumers that having received his P60 from his employer he could send a photo of it with a mobile number for a “… free no strings attached tax refund estimate from taxback.com”.
The following text appeared on screen throughout the advertisement.
“Tax Refund Estimate”
“Free No Strings Attached”
“They send a Refund Estimate. If you like what you see claim your cash”
The complainant considered the advertising to be misleading. He said that in his opinion there were many strings attached to the tax back process. Rather than getting a free estimate with no strings attached when he followed the procedures outlined in the advertising, he was sent an email with instructions to download and save application forms to proceed. He was also requested to provide photograph ID and his electronic signature.
He forwarded the email from the advertisers which outlined that by signing the Customer Agreement and Customer Declaration in the link provided to him, he would have been authorising taxback.com to be his tax agent, that his PPS number would be used to access his pay and tax details with the Revenue Commissioners, and that by signing he was agreeing to the terms and conditions associated with the taxback.com service.
The complainant said that there were ‘many strings’ attached to the process of registering for the service.
The advertisers said they had discussed the issues raised by the complainant at the highest level within their company and they had taken the issues raised very seriously.
The advertisers said that the main issue raised by the complainant appeared to be around their “no strings attached” statement, which was a completely true statement, however, the follow up email which the complainant had received failed to communicate that filling the application forms was an optional step, and that they could send an estimation based on receiving a photo of a P60 alone. They pointed out that estimating a tax refund based on just a P60, only told half the story, as to get a thorough estimation of a tax refund, they needed to gather more information about expenses, family situation, changes in job, etc. They considered that they needed to make it clear that customers can choose either of these options.
The advertisers proposed to amend their advertising by editing the template that their sales team used when responding to enquiries that came from their specific marketing campaign (P60 video). They proposed to provide two options to clients. One which would refer to the fact that that they could only use the P60 provided to estimate 2018 tax refunds. The second option would be that they could carry out an extensive assessment of taxes for the last four years and that this would entail filling out an application form with a link to the application form being provided.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted the advertisers’ intention to amend the follow up email to make it clear that respondents could avail of the estimate or the more detailed assessment.
The Committee considered that the advertisement created a clear expectation of providing
a limited free service of tax refund estimate on receipt of a standard taxation document. As this was not the case, at the time of the complaint, the Committee considered the advertising had breached the Code under Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.
The advertisement should not be used in the same format again.