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Trade Centre UK radio advert banned due to ‘ambiguous’ finance T&Cs

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A Trade Centre UK radio advert said to have placed PCP finance terms at the start in an effort to deliver added prominence has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA upheld a compliant which claimed that the positioning of the T&Cs information for the used cars supermarket’s Citroen C1 supermini offer led to uncertainty about whether they applied to a previous advert.  

The advert, for the group’s Rochdale site, was aired on February 20 and stated the terms of a 15.2% APR, five-year offer ahead of the details of the £3,999 French supermini and opening times, which were stated in a different voice.

In its response to the ASA Trade Centre Group said the guidance in the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) handbook the Consumer Credit Sourcebook (CONC) rule 3.2.3 G stated that information included in a financial promotion should be prominent.

The retailer said that its interpretation of the FCA guidance meant a representative example should be clear, intelligible, unambiguous and timely and must be presented in such a way that the attention of the average consumer would be drawn to it.

The ASA said: “Trade Centre UK said they would not be acting in accordance with their business principle of treating their customers fairly, if they were to present customers with an offer, but hid or delayed the details of the full terms and conditions of that offer until right at the end of the ad.

“They said the ad was structured to comply with FCA guidance to present the representative example in the timeliest way, which would not be at the end of an ad.”

In its ruling, however, the ASA acknowledged that the commonly used format for radio adverts was for the T&Cs to be stated at the end, adding that “we considered listeners would generally expect to hear the T&Cs at that point”.

It added: “We noted Trade Centre UK’s explanation that the ad had been structured in an attempt to ensure the prominence of the T&Cs.

“However, they were stated before any other information, such as the identity of the advertiser or product was heard.

“The T&Cs contained detailed figures about the credit agreement that was offered, including the price of the car, deposit amount, payment schedule and interest, which we considered was material information listeners would need in order to make an informed decision about the product.

“However, the manner in which the T&Cs were presented lacked the necessary context as to what they referred, which meant listeners were likely to find them unclear and ambiguous.

“We also considered that by the time the main content of the ad was heard (even though some of the figures were repeated), listeners were unlikely to have realised that the T&Cs related to the product that followed, or they were likely to have been forgotten.”

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