On March 1st, online advertising fell into the remit of the Advertising Standards Authority. Before they could only investigate paid for advertising in the form of pop ups or banners on websites but now they can cover marketing messages on websites, marketing communications in other non-paid-for space under the advertiser’s control, such as social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and marketing communications on all UK websites, regardless of sector, type of businesses or size of organisation. This is pretty good news because before this change many people who were making dubious claims and selling products or services that were potentially misleading or illegal could advertise online without being challenged, now that isn’t the case.
I recently interviewed Alan Henness of The Nightingale Collaboration about this change. The collaboration are using the new remit of the ASA to start tackling the claims that alternative medicine practitioners make online where they were exempt from regulation before the remit change. You should head to their website and see if you can help because you might be surprised at the change one person can make.
I, on the other hand used the change on March 1st to complain about a product I had seen on sale on a paranormal equipment website called ‘Toms Gadgets’ for the last two years (possibly longer) that I knew had nonsense claims attached to it which now fell into the remit of the ASA.
The product is called ‘The Q-link classic Pendant’ and the site states:
“This is the classic Q-Link which its makers claim counteracts the effects EMFs have on our bodies.
Every day, our biofields are negatively impacted by flickering computer monitors, irate bosses, cell phones, emotional stress, tabloid television, and traffic jams. We are literally bombarded with frequencies that wear us down. That’s why it is essential to recharge.
Q-Link products tune up your biofield through a resonant effect that harmonizes your energy and helps you to navigate smoothly through a stressful world. Think of them like tuning forks that remind your biofield of its optimal functioning state. Worldly stress causes the biofield to become more chaotic and incoherent. The Q-Link reverses this process, ensuring efficiency, harmony, and balance.”
The underlined text was what I complained about as I felt they were claims that could not be backed up or proven – I mean, what the heck is a biofield and how does one charge it?
I submitted a compalint to the ASA stating:
On the site I have linked to the advert for the product states:
“Q-Link products tune up your biofield through a resonant effect that harmonizes your energy and helps you to navigate smoothly through a stressful world. Think of them like tuning forks that remind your biofield of its optimal functioning state. Worldly stress causes the biofield to become more chaotic and incoherent. The Q-Link reverses this process, ensuring efficiency, harmony, and balance. ”
I do not believe this to be a factual claim, They do not demonstrate how it “reminds your biofield of its optimal functioning state” or even if that is possible. They do not even explain what a “biofield” is and I think this is a made up term.
It also suggests that the environment we are all exposed to can have a harmful effect and I feel that people may be fooled into thinking they’re in danger with this claim:
“Every day, our biofields are negatively impacted by flickering computer monitors, irate bosses, cell phones, emotional stress, tabloid television, and traffic jams. We are literally bombarded with frequencies that wear us down. That’s why it is essential to recharge.”
I think they are preying on peoples fear that things such as electricity pylons and mobile phone masts etc. can harm people through ‘Electromagnetic hypersensetivity’ when this has been shown not to be the case.”
I have today received a reply from the ASA that states that they are dealing with my complaint under their formal investigations procedure, which is GREAT news!
I have a feeling that Tomsgadgets will reply that they don’t have to prove the product works because they buy it from a supplier and, on their site state:
“This is the classic Q-Link which its makers claim counteracts the effects EMFs have on our bodies.”
Which is why today, knowing that the ASA agree that the claims on the Tomsgadgets website about the Q-link pendant require evidence to support them, I have submitted a complaint to the ASA about each claim being made on the website of ‘Q-link pendants’ who supply the range of products that the one sold on ‘Toms Gadgets’ is part of. On their site they claim:
“The Q-Link may, among other benefits, increase physical stamina, reduce stress, increase ability to focus and reduce the effect of jet lag. Crucially, it may help the body protect itself from the environmental stresses of EMF.”
“The technology contained in the QLink is called Sympathetic Resonance Technology. SRT is engineered from a scientific field called ’subtle energy’. We are discovering how subtle energy refinement can make quantum electromagnetic, chemical and biological phenomena more functional. Since 1991, Clarus has been developing and testing this technology.
To examine whether the responses we see in the QLink are simply placebo responses, double-blind, controlled, and in vitro studies have been and are being conducted at some of the finest institutes in the world, including Stanford University, USA, Imperial College, London and the institute of Cancer at the University of Vienna”
“The study of brain changes in 24 normal adults, conducted by Dr Rodney Croft, at the Brain & Behaviour Research Institute at the University of Wollongong, Australia, in collaboration with the Dept of Cognitive Neuroscience and Behaviour at Imperial College Medical School, London and the department of Psychology at Coventry University, England, indicated that wearing the Q-Link reduced the effects of active mobile phones on human brain cells.”
It sounds impressive, however, a little digging into the study conducted shows that it was only a pilot study and that the conclusion isn’t a concrete one (as no peer review has taken place, as far as I can find).
I also had a problem with the following quote taken from the study literature as, to me, it reads as though they are claiming the technology in q-link products works but can’t be proven to as science isn’t advanced enough yet, which looks like goalposts being shifted to me…
“It is argued by the developer that this EMF acts as a carrier wave for subatomic ‘information’, and that this information assists in strengthening an organism’s resilience to stressors. However, there are a number of elements to the above theory that are not verifiable (some because critical details have not been made available by the developer, and others because science does not have the requisite tools at present).“
I will keep visitors to my blog updated with the response I recieve from both the ‘Tomsgadgets complaint’ and the ‘Q-link complaint’ as I hear from the ASA. I’m willing to see evidence provided that proves these products really do what the manufactuers and providers claim they do, but I’m not holding my breath.