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Product: Health & Beauty
Advertiser: Sasta Carrick-On-Shannon
Medium: Internet (Company Website)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 5.22(a), 5.22(b), 5.22(c)
Advertising for a 6 week challenge on the advertisers’ own website contained the following information:
A banner across the page stated:
“THIS IS THE LAST DAY TO REGISTER!!***”
“Sásta Carrick-on Shannon
6 Week Challenge
REGISTER NOW FOR FREE
Only 6 spots left.
1,463 Success Stories and counting…Will you be next
Sásta Carrick on Shannon
FREE CARRICK-ON-SHANNON 6 WEEK CHALLENGE
We’re looking for 40 ladies who are looking to transform their bodies and lives in 6 weeks for FREE
CLICK-HERE” (link provided here to more information on the programme)
The following information was also provided in relation to costs:
1 Consultation for 6-Week Challenge €0.00
1 Deposit for 6-Week Challenge €399.00
1 Pod Sessions for 6-Week Challenge €0.00
1 Weigh-ins for 6-Week challenge €0.00
The complainant considered the advertising to be misleading. He queried how the 6 week challenge could be ‘free’ as advertised if participants had to pay €399.00 to participate.
The advertisers said they were trialling the promotion. They had advertised it as being free because they believed people were getting it for free. They said they had requested a deposit to ensure that people did not drop out of the challenge. They considered that when people were offered something for free that they were inclined to drop out after their first few appointments and then stop attending. They said this can be a waste of everybody’s time and the participants do not get any results.
The advertisers said that when a deposit is required participants tend to turn up for appointments as they know they will get their deposit back at the end of the 6 week programme.
In conclusion the advertisers considered that the programme was ‘free’ because at the end of the 6 weeks the participants had their deposits refunded unless they wished to put the deposit towards future services.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that while the challenge was advertised as ‘free’, respondents were required to pay a deposit of €399.00 which would be refunded to them on completion of the 6 week challenge. The Committee considered that if a deposit was a requirement to sign up to the challenge, even if the deposit was refunded on completion of the challenge, the offer should not be described as being an unconditional ‘free’ offer.
In the circumstances the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4 and 5.22 of the Code.
The Complaints Committee advised the advertisers that the reference to ‘free’ should not be used again, unless the challenge was offered free to respondents without the requirement of a deposit or payment of any kind.