THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS AUTHORITY

It may surprise you to discover that unlike Trading Standards, the Advertising Standards Authority are NOT a government body. It is actually a private limited company run by a group of private individuals and YOU indirectly pay their wages (they are based in central London and probably command rather high salaries).

For obvious reasons, the people running the cosy little set-up, attempt to glean plenty of publicity for themselves by making a song and dance on a variety of subjects. Perhaps the hope is that YOU will believe that they actually have statutory powers.

Judge for yourself. For years they advertised their own service, claiming that they monitored over 850 advertisements a month. When challenged, they were unable to prove the claim to us and changed their advertising.

Their current material states "when an advertisement is misleading we enforce…." They have been requested to remove the reference to "enforce" as this could be misleading. Their claim that "enforce" referred to reporting an advertiser to Trading Standards or The Office of Fair Trading was simply nothing short of the action YOU can take yourself. The statutory bodies "enforce by law" The complaint against the ASA has been upheld by us and they have been advised that a more appropriate word to use in future, would be "report".

At present, businesses can fight a competitor by making trivial complaints to the ASA. The ASA will often become unwittingly involved. They make adjudications that can then be publicised nationally and cause damage to the reputation of perfectly innocent businesses. The ASA do not employ experts in every field of industry and in our opinion should not be permitted to sit as judge and jury when a complaint is received by them.

The ASA claim to help YOU by preventing misleading advertising from appearing again. Here’s a recent admission from the ASA in one of their adjudications. "The Authority is concerned that this is the fourth time that the advertiser has been asked to change the advertisement".

Even the use of the word "Authority" in their name, is questionable. The dictionary meaning of Authority is absolutely specific when used with a capital letter:- "a public board or corporation exercising governmental authority in administering some enterprise". The use of the word Authority in their name could therefore be deemed to be misleading as they are NOT exercising governmental authority, although of course, it would seem that they would love you to believe it.

Q. How do YOU indirectly pay these peoples wages?

A. Many everyday items that YOU buy, have a built-in cost for packaging and advertising. The ASA receive a percentage of the sum the advertiser pays for display advertisements in papers and magazines and other sources.

If you are not happy with this situation, write to your Member of Parliament. This country needs an Advertising Standards Authority. It MUST be run fairly and LEGALLY. It may not be legal to threaten advertisers with adverse publicity if they fail to adhere to opinions. As a consumer, YOU need proper protection from rogue traders. YOU have a right to be protected from thugs and cowboys who will rip you off, go bust, and set up in business the next day under a different trading name. Advertisers also have a right to be treated fairly. If the Government collected the fees you are indirectly paying already, they would be far more likely to create a true Authority with statutory powers. It’s not something that cowboy traders would welcome and, possibly not something that the ASA would seem to welcome. Another option would be for the ASA to admit their faults and revise their modus operandi. The irony is that they do have resources, judge for yourself if those resources are being squandered.

Keep watching this site, we’ll keep you up to date with this saga.


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