With consumers being in such a sensitive and vulnerable position, the Advertising Standards Authority ("ASA") is taking steps to protect consumers from rogue traders making misleading energy savings claims and has released a statement warning advertisers that misleading advertising with a particular focus on claims relating to heating is on its radar.
The statement followed ASA rulings against four adverts for mini-heaters making a series of inaccurate, exaggerated and unsupported claims that use of the products would provide consumers with cost and energy savings, whilst quickly and efficiently heating rooms and being a viable alternative to gas central heating (the "Ads").
- "The cheapest and best way to stay warm and comfortable."
- "Use This To Stay Warm & Save Money This Winter. If you hate the cold but don’t want to raise your heating bills, you need to get this."
- "It'll warm up your rooms quickly, efficiently, and most importantly - cheaply! ... If you hate being cold, but don't want massive central heating bills - this is the best solution we can see right now …
- "Almost no energy is wasted"
- “This new mini heater is an alternative to gas for the winter ahead. Compact, efficient, and able to warm a room in minutes. Where can you still pick it up? Gas prices have risen quickly this year. This electric fan heater, could be a great alternative to warm rooms in your home! It'll warm up your rooms in just a few minutes …”
- with gas prices being lower than electricity, central heating would be cheaper and more efficient than a plug in mini-heater; and
- a single mini heater would be unlikely to be able to supply the amount of heat needed for a typical sized room, with multiple heaters required for an equivalence with central heating (apart from a small single room apartment).
Following a lack of response from the advertisers and apparent disregard for advertising rules, the ASA deemed the Ads to be in breach of multiple rules of the CAP Code.
The rulings, along with the statement made by the ASA, show that the regulator is taking a hard line with advertisers looking to prey on vulnerable consumers in difficult times.
Tips for advertisers:
- Don't exaggerate the effects of your products.
- Ensure that you have evidence to support claims about the effects of your products.
- Consider the impact that your claims will have on consumers.
- Be more sensitive when advertising to vulnerable consumers.
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