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Advertiser: Randox Laboratories Limited
Medium: Internet (Company Website), Online - Company Website
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10.
Advertising for Covid 19 testing on the advertisers’ website promoted two tests and included a section titled “How IT Works” and included the following claim:
“Results emailed the next day*
*upto 11.59pm next day”
Advertising for various tests associated with Covid-19 on the advertisers’ website included a next day PCR test. An image of a stopwatch was used with the time “11.59pm” inside the image. Under the image it stated:
“Next Day PCR Test.
Results by 11.59pm the next day* Sample collected by trained clinician. EU Digital Covid Certificate Available.
Under the advertising for each test was the following statement:
* Delivery times for test results are approximate. Following receipt of your sample, we will make every reasonable endeavour to provide your test results within a reasonable timeframe following our laboratory receiving your sample.”
Underneath the above was a section titled “How It Works” which included the following claim:
“Results emailed the next day*
*UP TO 11.59pm NEXT DAY”
Advert 1 – Complaint 1:
The complainant had a PCR test on a Friday evening at 7pm and based on the advertising, considered that they should have received their results by 11pm on the Saturday night. The complainant was travelling early on the Sunday morning and said that they did not receive their results until 4.29am on the Sunday morning when they were at the airport awaiting to board their flight and because of the delay in receiving their results, had had to arrange a second test with another company at an extra cost.
Advert 1 – Complaint 2:
The complainant noted that the website stated that results would be received by 11.59pm the next day, however, the terms and conditions on the advertisers’ website stated that:
“In the case of a PCR test, Randox will notify you of your test result within 48 hours of receiving your sample at our testing laboratory.” The complainant said that their test results were not received by 11.59pm the next day which resulted in them missing their flight. On contacting the advertisers, they were advised that the claim of results being received by 11.59pm the next day was a guideline and referred them to the terms and conditions. The complainant therefore considered that the information provided on the website was misleading.
Advert 2 – Complaint 1 and 2
Two complainants considered that the name of the test “Next Day PCR Test” and the advertising claim of results being delivered by 11.59pm the next day were misleading as they were contradicted by the terms and conditions which stated that results would be notified within 48 hours of receipt at laboratory.
One of the complainants advised that they had booked tests for a family of 6 for the ‘Next Day PCR Test’, however, their test results were not delivered within the advertised timeframe which resulted in them missing flights.
Advert 1 – Complaint 1 and 2:
The advertisers stated that they had reviewed their data for return of results to consumers in Ireland and that up to the time of their response, they had reported well over 500,000 Covid-19 PCR results to private consumers in Ireland with 99.67% of results sent to consumers by 11.59pm on the day after the sample was taken. They therefore considered that the vast majority of tests that were performed were reported by 11.59pm the following day, as represented with their advertising.
The advertisers also said that while they did not wish to diminish any complaint, they did not believe that a negligible amount of anecdotal complaints, which may have been caused by factors outside of their control, were sufficient to accuse them of false advertising. They said that they would address any complaint in line with their website representations as per their terms and conditions and they engaged with consumers as required. They said that they believed that they had provided us with substantiation for the continuance of the advertising.
Advert 2 – Complaint 1 and 2:
The advertisers did not address the complaints against Advert 2.
The advertisers provided a spreadsheet detailing average turnaround times from swab to result that included results for Express testing and Antigen testing, however, it did not identify which results related to the ‘Next Day PCR Test’. As the complaints related to advertising for the ‘Next Day PCR Test’, the advertisers were requested to provide the following information –
Data for the Next Day PCR Test only.
The number of tests that were completed in the timeline the data covers and the dates for that timeline.
The percentage of tests that were delivered ‘up to 11.59pm the next day’.
For those results that were not delivered ‘up to 11.59pm the next day’, to outline the reasons for their delay.
Finally, to provide a narrative as to what information the data provided shows and how it substantiates the advertised claim.
The advertisers advised that they would revert in due course, however, to date, no further information was provided.
Advert 1 – Complaint 1 and 2 - Upheld
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the advertisers’ response.
The Committee noted the requirement of the Code that advertisers should satisfy themselves that they will be able to provide documentary evidence to substantiate all claims and that such evidence should be sent without delay if requested (4.10).
While the Committee noted the commentary in relation to the number of test results reported by 11.59pm the next day, relevant documentary evidence had not been received for substantiation. In the absence of substantiation, the Committee considered that the claim was misleading, and the Committee concluded that the advertisement was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.
Advert 2 – Complaint 1 and 2 – Upheld
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and noted that the advertiser had not provided any response to the complaints against Advert 2. The Committee reminded the advertisers that there is an onus on them to ensure that their advertising is in conformity with the Code.
The Committee noted that the advertisement had stated ‘Next Day PCR Test’ and “Results by 11.59pm the next day” which was linked by way of an asterisk to a note stating that delivery times for test results were approximate, and that under the ‘How it works’ section, it had stated “Results Emailed the next day* *UP TO 11:59pm NEXT DAY”. The Committee also noted that the terms and conditions had stated that in the case of the PCR test, customers would be notified of their test result within 48 hours of receiving the sample at the advertisers’ testing laboratory. The Committee considered that the language used in the advertisement would give consumers a reasonable expectation that they would receive their results by 11.59pm the next day. While the Committee noted the advertisers’ response in regard to Advert 1, in the absence of substantiation for the claim in Advert 2, the Committee concluded that the advertisement was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 4.10 of the Code.
The advertising must not reappear in its current form unless substantiation is provided.