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Make sure your advert's OK

The advertising standards authority can't be ignored.
Recently the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled against an auto recycler’s advert. We don’t have any details about this particular car breaker but the ruling raises some points that all dismantlers need to be aware of.

The advert stated “End of Life Breakers £300 min.
Responsible drivers scrap their vehicles at an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF). Because only an ATF can legally scrap a vehicle. That means any pollutants will be made safe before its recycled in an environmentally friendly way. What’s more, for certain types of vehicle you’ll get a DVLA approved Certificate of Destruction (CoD). A CoD proves that the ATF has told DVLA your vehicle has been scrapped and so is no longer your responsibility.

The ad included logos of the DVLA, the Environment Agency and BERR. Text at the foot of the ad stated “Environment Agency Registered”.

The first point to note is that the ASA was not pleased that the company did not respond to the claims made against them. Under the code, advertisers should respond promptly when there is a complaint made against them so if this happens to you, make sure you respond!

The complainant challenged whether the ‘£300 minimum’ was misleading and could be substantiated, as they had received a lot less than £300. As there was no response the ASA found in favour of the claimant. There may have been a valid reason why the figure was less than £300, I don’t know but simply ignoring the issue was not the correct course of action.

Another issue raised was that the company name on the advert was different to the company name on the documentation issued to the claimant. The ASA were concerned that the ad did not make clear the true identity of the advertiser. On that basis, they considered that the ad was likely to mislead consumers to their detriment and therefore breached the Code.

The ASA were also concerned of the term ‘End of Life Vehicle’ and that logos of DVLA, EA and BERR were used on the advert. The ASA considered that consumers were likely to interpret the ad to mean that End Of Life Vehicles were associated with, or were, an official government body.

I am concerned at this point. We have previously been encouraged by DVLA, provided we are linked to them on-line to process CoDs to use their logos. In fact, they produced sample ads for the industry to use and if my memory is correct, contributed to some of the advertising costs.

If the dismantler involved in this case is legitimate and operating a professional business, then the whole affair really should have been contested. There do seem some genuine complaints. Stating you will pay a price and then not paying that price is hard to understand. On the other hand, the use of the term, ‘End of Life’ in an advert really is the accepted description of the product and it is hard to see the ASA’s position here. If this happens to you, make sure you respond.

With issues such as this you must be prepared to justify your actions and, when they are shown to be in the wrong, take remedial action to make good. Ignoring the complaint will only do harm to your business and the image of the industry. As part of their £10 per week for membership, Motor Vehicle Dismantlers Associaton members can receive help and advise from their association when issues such as this arise.

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