Vita Aid Ph Balance – still making false claims

Posted 14 May 2014

Can one trust anything that  Arcadia Home Shopping claims in adverts? There have been numerous rulings against products from this company. A previous ASA ruling against Vita Aid Ph Balance required Arcadia to stop making those claims. They did not and a consumer noticed, laying a breach complaint with the ASA. The ASA ruled in the complainants favour.

[note note_color=”#f8fddd”] Vita Aid Ph Balance / K Charleston / 21897
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Mr Kevin Charleston Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Arcadia Home Shopping (Pty) Ltd Respondent[/note]

25 Apr 2014

http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=6859

BACKGROUND

In Vita Aid PH Balance / K Charleston / 21897 (17 February 2014) the respondent was found in breach of the previous Directorate ruling due to the continued use of the unsubstantiated claims.

The parties were afforded ten working days each to comment on whether or not sanctions in terms of Clause 14 of the Procedural Guide were appropriate.

COMPLAINANT’S COMMENTS ON SANCTIONS

The complainant submitted that the respondent has had a long history of negative rulings from the Directorate. It was added that the advertisement has changed but the changes made were barely noticeable and largely inconsequential.

The complainant further submitted that subsequent to the ruling, there has been no further advertising in the Sunday Times and almost all references to this product was removed from the website.

The complainant argued that sanction in terms of Clause 14.2 of the Procedural Guide will not be effective and the respondent will merely avoid advertising that product for a period. The complainant believes that an appropriate sanction would be in terms of Clause 14.3 of the Procedural Guide.

RELEVANT CLAUSE OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE

In light of the breach ruling, Clause 14 of the Procedural Guide (Sanctions) was taken into account.

RESPONDENT’S COMMENTS ON SANCTIONS

The respondent submitted that the complainant is unreasonable in his continued attempt to indicate that it is “wilfully disregarding the ASA’s rulings. The Facebook posting, as well as the Blog he is referring to, dates back to March 2013 and July 2013. Both these postings have been done prior to receiving any ruling from the ASA on this product. It submitted that it had consequently removed the product (postings) from any page, site or even associated site has refrained from advertising the product anywhere. The complainant also supports this averment.

The respondent argued, inter alia, that it is an incorrect assumption of the complainant to state that it will “merely refrain from advertising the product for the time being”. He has no knowledge of Arcadia’s business and therefore he is merely expressing his opinion on what it will do to advertise the product.

The respondent submitted that the sanction that the complainant suggests is undue and harsh on Arcadia. The suggested sanction is not justified against the goodwill and efforts that it had shown to comply with the original ASA ruling, and its undertaking to withdraw the product from ALL advertising (and with which it had complied subsequently).

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING

The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

In considering sanctions, the Directorate takes into account several factors, most notably the nature of the contravention, any history the respondent has with the ASA, as well as possible harm done to consumers or competitors as a result of non-compliance.

Objectively speaking, this does not appear to warrant severe sanctions, and does not suggest a deliberate intent to circumvent the ASA rulings or contravene the Code.

Having said this, the Directorate is reluctant to merely excuse the non-compliance, especially as the breach ruling pointed out that “The current advertisement is materially similar to the original advertisement”. The Code places the onus of compliance squarely at the door of the respondent. Any sanction imposed, would ideally serve as educational, rather than punitive at this time.

Weighing up the issues and relevant factors, the Directorate is of the view that a sanction in terms of Clause 14.2 of the Procedural Guide is warranted at this time.

In terms of this sanction, the respondent is ordered to submit the proposed amendment, original advertisement and the relevant ASA rulings to the ACA Advisory Service for pre-publication advice before making efficacy claims for its Vita Aid PH Balance product. This is a once-off sanction, and the respondent should retain proof of its approval from the ACA Advisory Services, in the event of further disputes being lodged with the ASA.

[note note_color=”#f8fddd”]CAMCheck posts related to Arcadia Home Shopping 

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