ASA steps in to stem utility ad complaints

Advertising guidelines are to be drawn up for gas and electricity utilities, following a flood of industry com-plaints over price comparisons in ads.

To prevent confusion arising among consumers, the Advertising Standards Authority and CAP decided to take steps to make the rules crystal clear last Wednesday.

The copy advice team is to talk to the utilities, industry bodies and regulators with the aim of producing a help note based on existing rules.

An ASA spokesman says: “Exactly the same process is followed in the telecoms industry.

“Although the majority are industry complaints, we want to make sure we work with the industry to establish a level playing field before complaints affect consumers.”

The ASA is investigating 11 complaints for gas and electricity ads, involving price-based com-parisons between suppliers. Three of the complaints were lodged by consumers.

One of the complaints comes from the independent gas supplier Calortex (MW February 19). It has attacked British Gas Trading’s “15 per cent off” advertising campaign as “misleading”.

Last November the ASA upheld two complaints made by British Gas Trading against Calortex and Eastern Natural Gas over regional press ads referring to price savings.

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