A radio advertisement for Ben Dunne Gyms stated:
“At Ben Dunne gyms we won't be beaten when it comes to price and quality. One month's membership is available from €22.95. Yes, one month's membership only €22.95. So join a Ben Dunne Gym today for €22.95 and get one month's membership. It includes free classes, a full range of cv and weights plus a lot more. So log on to Ben Dunne gyms today and join for only €22.95. Terms and conditions apply.”
The complainant considered that the radio advertisement was misleading as it did not make any reference to a joining fee that applied to monthly memberships. The complainant had noted the reference to terms and conditions applying in the advertisement, however, he considered that the advertisement should have specifically mentioned that a joining fee applied.
The advertisers stated that the advertisement had stated that membership was available “from €22.95 per month” and that it had stated that terms and conditions applied. They said that there were several terms related to the membership and it was not possible for them to include them all in a 20 or 30 second advertisement. They also said that the advertisement had referred listeners to their website where they had clearly stated their prices and the joining fee was made clear there as they are an online business.
The advertisers also stated that they considered they were fair and clear in their advertising that terms and conditions applied and that many other advertisers only offered base prices in their advertising.
Finally they said that they take great pride in their ethics, had been advertising on radio for over 15 years and that this was the first complaint in regards to this matter.
The advertisers stated that their radio advertisement had also advertised their annual membership which was not subject to the joining fee.
The Executive sourced a copy of the radio advertisement from the media who had been provided with the date and time that the advertisement had aired. The media confirmed that the copy provided to the Executive was the copy that aired on the date referred to by the complainant.
The Executive noted that no reference was made to annual memberships in the copy that was provided by the media.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that in order to avail of a monthly membership, a joining fee was applicable. The Committee noted that the advertisement had referred to terms and conditions applying.
Whilst being cognisant of the limits of radio advertising, the Committee considered that a joining fee was a major condition that should have been specifically referenced in the advertising. In the absence of this reference, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4 and 4.23 of the Code.
The Complaints Committee told Ben Dunne Gyms to ensure that future similar advertisements included a reference to the required joining fee.