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ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.17
The radio advertisement stated:
“Your health is your wealth and in these uncertain times, your wealth also needs protection. Smart investors understand how owning gold can do exactly that. By owning physical gold as coins or bars that can be easily and safely delivered to you or professionally stored by Ireland's longest established and most trusted precious metal experts Goldcore. Visit Gold.ie to find out more that's Gold.ie”.
The complaint objected to the statement “Ireland’s most trusted metal experts” as they did not consider that the advertiser was in a position to substantiate the claim.
The advertisers stated that they were established in 2003, initially as Gold Investments Limited and subsequently as GoldCore Ltd, and provided the facility for private, pension and corporate investors access to the precious metals markets for the purchase and/or sale and storage of gold and/or silver assets. They said that during the last 17 years they had transacted over $1 Billion on behalf of 17,000 clients in over 140 countries around the World. They said that despite the geographic diversity of their client base, over 70% of their clients were based in Ireland, approximately 11,000 individuals.
They said that their company was well respected in the international financial world with their senior management team having appeared on most domestic and major international financial news outlets over the years, including but not limited to, RTE, BBC, CNBC, CNN and Bloomberg. They said that in this regard alone, among other participants in the Irish precious metals industry, GoldCore were unique.
The advertisers said that most if not all of the other precious metals providers in the Irish market were very small operations that had only been established for the past 6 to 10 years and had mostly entered the market as the result of the success of GoldCore. They said that a quick search of The Companies Office records would demonstrate the difference in scale and reach of GoldCore’s business in comparison with their genuinely Irish competitors. They said that there were other bullion companies that sold to Irish customers and presented themselves online as Irish companies by using a localised Irish website and a .ie URL extension, however, these companies were not in fact Irish companies.
The advertisers said that as precious metals brokers they were trusted with large sums of money on behalf of their clients and that given their 17 year history and track record, they had been trusted by more clients and more client funds than any other bullion Irish dealer.
They said that notwithstanding the objective measurement of trust from a numerical point of view, they were the only bullion dealer in Ireland that actively canvassed and published a “Trust Score” on their website, as could be seen from their Ekomi(1) score of 4.85 out of a total of 5, which they said was established from over 2,000 respondents. They said that no other Irish bullion dealer provided this subjective measurement of trust to their customers and that in addition to this, they also actively canvassed negative feedback from each of their clients and encourage them to post these reviews on their website to ensure that they as a company maintained the high standards that their clients deserved.
In response to a request for substantiation for the claim “Ireland’s most trusted metal experts” the advertisers referred to their engagement of Ekomi1 who they said gathered and analysed their reviews independently on their behalf. They provided the Executive with a statement from Ekomi who referred to their terms and conditions, specifically:
5.1. eKomi stands for professional collection, management and publishing of authentic reviews that reflect actual consumer experiences. The parties agree that the authenticity of the evaluators’ assessments is crucial and, therefore, the subjective views of the evaluators should be respected in the light of freedom of expression, if and to the extent that the evaluations do not violate the communication rules or are otherwise unlawful. Whether a rating is appropriate or inappropriate, factual or unsuitable, is expressly and deliberately not examined.
6.8. Any kind of undue influence on the evaluator, manipulation of the rating and/or the rating average and any kind of abusive structuring of the rating process are inadmissible. The Company undertakes to refrain from:
6.8.1. offering benefits (price discounts, rebates, vouchers, etc.) to the evaluators or potential evaluators for the submission of positive ratings or the non-issuance of negative ratings,
6.8.2. threatening the evaluators or potential evaluators with disadvantages of any kind in the event of submitting negative assessments,
6.8.3. influencing the rating process in any way or to design it in such a way as to prevent or hinder the submission of negative assessments,
6.8.4. rating itself in relation to its own Company or by directly or indirectly commissioning third parties (including employees of the Company),
6.8.5. otherwise influencing the rating process in a manipulative manner.
6.9. To avoid the situation in which a selection affects the rating results, it is not permitted to interrupt or suspend the rating option during the term of the eKomi contract without the prior consent of eKomi in writing. The Company undertakes to provide potential evaluators with the opportunity to submit ratings throughout the duration of the eKomi agreement. In case of technical interruptions, the company must notify eKomi immediately.
Ekomi stated that their company complied totally with that stated within the T&C and did not go against them, otherwise, they would be liable for them.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response, including the explanation that the advertising claim, “Ireland’s most trusted metal experts”, was based on independently collated customer reviews.
The Committee referred to the Code provision that testimonials did not constitute substantiation and that the opinions expressed in them should be supported, where necessary, with independent evidence of their accuracy (4.17). As no independently verified evidence or relevant and appropriate benchmarking against competitors in the geographical region had been provided to substantiate the claim “Ireland’s most trusted metal expert”, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.
Action required: The advertisement should not reappear in its current form.
The Complaints Committee told GoldCore Ltd not to refer to themselves as “Ireland’s most trusted metal experts” unless they held independently verified evidence to substantiate the claim.