British Gas escapes censure over HomeCare ad

Complainant alleged that adverts for boiler and heating cover were misleading

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against a claim that a British Gas ad campaign for its HomeCare boiler and heating cover was misleading.

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The complainant said that the radio adverts, which first appeared in February this year, offered the protection ‘from £14 a month’, but misled listeners by failing to mention a £60 excess.

In response, British Gas argued that an excess was a normal and expected element of insurance, and therefore not necessary to mention in a short radio spot. Listeners were directed to the company’s website, which contained full details of the service, including the excess.

The ASA also considered research by radio advertising clearance body Radiocentre which indicated that short and simple terms and conditions were best suited to radio ads.

The body found that ‘listeners were unlikely to recall details of the excess after hearing the radio ads, particularly if they were doing something else while listening’.

Therefore, signposting listeners to a longer and more detailed written overview of the terms and conditions on its website was considered an appropriate course of action.

‘The British Gas website made it clear upfront that an excess applied and stated the value of the excess,’ the ASA said in its ruling.

‘They said that it was more useful for the customer to be given this information at the start of the quote process rather than in the terms and conditions of the radio ad.

‘It was appropriate to provide the information clearly at the point at which they were deciding if they wanted to take out the cover.’

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The ASA also noted that the company had been able to substantiate the fact that a majority of HomeCare One customers would pay the price stated in the ad at the time of airing.