I get loads of emails and Facebook messages from strangers telling me about dodgy advertising they’ve discovered that they think breaches the CAP codes, as though the idea that people make false claims in adverts is shocking and new. Sadly it isn’t, and even before I was involved with the Righteous Indignation Podcast (through which people know me best) I was submitting complaints about adverts that made evidenceless claims. Before I received abuse from podcast listeners and, more recently, Christians for my skeptical approach to the claims of others, it was psychic healers and homeopaths abusing and threatening me because I had made complaints about them.
I think it’s great that people are seeing these adverts, realising something isn’t right and that it needs addressing – but it’s not through emailing me that you can take the appropriate action. So I’ve created this:
Hayley’s quick guide to busting bogus ads
Step one: go and install the Fishbarrel plug in created by Simon Perry to aid the submission on complaints about online advertising. Seriously, it saves you so much time with the ASA and Trading Standards online complaints form, and also highlights adverts that have already been complained about by other Fishbarrel users.
Step two: Sign up to email newsletters from The Nightingale Collaboration.
- Always take a leaflet or cut the advert out. If you can’t then take a photo. It’s best not to confront the advertiser there and then because things can (and do) turn malicious, fast.
- Always Google the people responsible for the advert and see if the same claims are made online too. Internet advertising now falls under the Remit of the ASA so it’s always worth using Fishbarrel.
- Remember that testimonials used on websites can count as false advertising – I have included the use of testimonials on many ASA complaints which have been upheld.
- It’s important to remember that when you submit a complaint you will always remain anonymous unless you should choose to come forward and expose yourself as the complainant.
- It’s probably best to remain anonymous to avoid abuse. This is something I wish I had done from the very start.
Please note: although I complained to the ASA about ‘Healing on the Streets’ in Bath, the adjudication to the case only covered the Bath group. If you think your local group are breaching the CAP codes in the same way then don’t tell me, make your own complaint!