ASA lambasts former state monopolies over false claims

Thames Water has had its knuckles rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over claims that its tap water tastes better than bottled water.

The Consumers’ Association and the Natural Mineral Water Information Service complained about a series of press ads, created by Bates UK, which stated that “Thames Water came out top for taste against bottled varieties” in a Which? magazine health survey. The CA owns Which?

Both complainants said the ads implied the report had concluded that tap water tasted better than all varieties of bottled water, when in fact seven bottled waters also received top marks in the survey.

The Consumers’ Association also complained that the advertisers had referred to its report without obtaining permission.

Train operator First Great Western was also censured by the ASA this week for wrongly asserting that its service had been restored to normal following the Hatfield train crash.

The press ads, created by WWAV Rapp Collins, appeared in November last year.

The ads stated that “full service has now been resumed”, even though trains were still being affected by speed restrictions and a special timetable was in place.

The ASA also stepped in after mobile phone operators came to blows over press ads for BT Cellnet which claimed its weekend calls were cheaper than any other network.

The authority upheld a complaint from Vodafone that the price comparison was misleading because it was based on two different tariffs.

It also agreed with One 2 One that the footnote explaining the comparison was based on weekend calls was not prominent enough.

But the ASA rejected One 2 One’s assertion that the claim “BT Cellnet’s 2p weekend calls are cheaper than any other network” could not be substantiated.

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