A television advertisement for AIB mortgages featured different items portraying percentage rates and each rate being ‘destroyed’ by various people. In the first scene a woman smashes a ceramic 3.4% with a baseball bat, while other scenes feature a man and woman upending a table full of glasses that were arranged in the number 3.9%, a jelly 4% being hit with a tennis racquet and a paper 4.5% being destroyed with fire.
“Mortgage hunters! AIB believe it's time for you to say ‘Goodbye locked-in, long term regret’. ‘Goodbye confusing up-front offers. ‘Goodbye Rate Rage.’ And ‘hello’ to Ireland's lowest variable rates from AIB. Rates that will save you way more over the life of your mortgage. Rates available to every existing and new AIB customer. After all, fair’s fair. So goodbye ‘Rate Rage’ and hello Ireland's lowest variable rates from AIB.”
On screen text read: “Hello Ireland’s lowest variable mortgage rates.”
Small print on screen read:
“Warning: The cost of repayments may increase.
Warning: If you do not keep up your repayments you may lose your home.
Warning: If you do not meet the repayments on your loan, your account will go into arrears. This may affect your credit rating, which may limit your ability to access credit in the future.
Source: Bonkers.ie October 2017. Lending criteria T&Cs apply. Rate is available to new or existing mortgage customers, breakage fees may apply. Allied Irish Bank plc is an authorised agent and servicer of AIB Mortgage Bank in relation to origination and servicing of mortgage loans and mortgages. AIB Mortgage Bank and Allied Irish Banks, plc are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.”
The complainant considered that the claim that the rate applied to every existing AIB customer was misleading as he was a buy to let mortgage holder and could not avail of the lower rate and this had not been mentioned in the advertisement.
The advertisers said that their advertisement was promoting the fact that Ireland’s lowest variable rates were available from AIB and that these rates were available to new and existing customers. They said that this was an accurate statement in that they offered the same rates to new and existing AIB personal customers who apply for an AIB mortgage. They also said that the lowest variable rates referred to in the advertisement related to a mortgage for a Private Dwelling Home and not for a buy to let/investment.
The advertisers also said that at the beginning of the advertisement, the voice over said “Mortgage hunters” so that potential home owners could identify the relevance of the advertisement to them. They said that competitor rates highlighted in the advertisement were owner occupier rates and that the advertisement was not targeted at landlords or business customers. They also said that the industry standard was that all current mortgage television advertisements engaged with private home owners and not buy to let landlords.
In further comments, the advertisers stated that while it had never been their intention to mislead, they would amend the advertising, taking account of copy advice provided by the ASAI Executive.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee accepted the advertisers’ position that the buy to let mortgage market was usually different to the personal mortgage market. They noted, however, that the advertisement included an absolute and unqualified claim that the rate applied to ‘every existing and new AIB customer’. They did not consider the reference to ‘mortgage hunters’ would alert viewers to the fact that the offer was only applicable to personal customers. The Committee noted the further comments from the advertisers and that they intended to amend the advertising.
The Committee considered that the current version of the advertisement was likely to mislead and was in breach of Sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code.
The advertisement should not reappear in its current form. As the advertisers had undertaken to amend the advertisement, no further action was warranted.