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Product: Health & Beauty
Advertiser: West Wood Club
Medium: Internet (Company Website)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 5.5, 5.16
The advertisers’ website invited consumers to avail of the following offer:
“Limited Time Offer!
4 - Day Trial Membership
for You and a Friend
Claim your free trial
“Simply fill out the form below and we will send you a free 4-Day Pass…”
The complainant said that she signed up for the free 4-Day trial as advertised on the advertisers’ website. In a follow up email she was offered a 7-Day free trial alongside the opportunity to bring a friend. In a follow-up telephone call to the Club, the complainant informed staff that she was particularly interested in the spa and pool facilities, as she had used those two years previously on a visitor’s pass.
The complainant visited the Club to avail of her free trial, and following a tour of the gym and its facilities, was informed that because she had availed of a visitor’s pass on a previous occasion, she was not eligible for the free trial. The complainant said that had she been informed that she was not eligible for the free trial she would not have gone along to the Club. She considered that she had been misled by the advertising.
The advertisers said West Wood Club was a chain of health clubs that had been in business for over 30 years in Ireland, providing employment for many people. They said the 'guest pass' which they offered potential members was a 'sampling' opportunity to try the West Wood Club without commitment, before making any decision to buy membership or join.
The advertisers also said that the passes were always offered to first time guests only and this was clearly written on all of their guest passes.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They noted that while the free passes had contained the full terms and conditions, these had not been provided on the advertisers’ website at the time of the complaint, however, the Committee noted that they had since included a reference to the condition of ‘first time guests only’ on their site.
The Committee referred to the Code requirement that provided that terms and conditions which may exclude some consumers from the opportunity to participate in a promotional offer should be clearly and prominently stated so as to be clear to the consumer before any commitment was made. They noted that the complainant had had to commit time to tour the gym facilities prior to being informed that she was not eligible for the offer.
In the circumstances, the Complaints Committee considered that the advertising, at the time the complainant viewed it, was likely to mislead consumers and was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 5.5 and 5.16 of the Code.
As the advertiser had amended their website to include the reference to 'first time guests only', no further action was required.