Watchdog finds claims contained in a leaflet were ‘misleading’
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint made by Nottingham City Transport (NCT) about a leaflet issued by rival operator Dunn Motor Traction Ltd (DMT), which trades as yourbus.
DMT said when the leaflet was designed, both it and NCT operated the Y36 and 36 services every 10 minutes from Monday to Saturday daytimes and both services were registered as “frequent” with the traffic commissioner explaining to the ASA a “frequent” service was one which operated every 10 minutes or better and for which the operator did not have to publish a timetable, merely the minimum frequency of arrivals. DMT said, from March 27, 2011, NCT increased its service to operate up to every 7-8 minutes from Monday to Saturday daytimes. However, DMT said it did not wish to comment on this point.
DMT was founded in April 2009 by Bob and Scott Dunn after they had been involved for three years with Birmingham-based Rotala plc.- where Scott Dunn had been MD of Diamond Bus and some of its current management had previously worked at Diamond Bus.
In reaching the decision to uphold the complaint, the ASA considered the statement “We operate just as many departures as our competitor” was a claim capable of robust substantiation with a comparative analysis of recent timetable and punctuality data for the services offered by both DMT and NCT and which showed both operators offered the same number of departures. While the ASA took account of DMT’s explanation of the registered frequency of both services, it noted evidence of a registration, or any timetable and punctuality data had not been forthcoming. The ASA also noted DMT was aware from March 27, NCT increased its service and operated more departures than DMT. The ASA concluded the claim had not been substantiated and was misleading.
On this point the advert breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.33 (Comparisons with Identifiable Competitors). The ASA noted the complainant believed the advertiser had links with a larger group (Rotala) from which it obtained vehicles and systems, and therefore DMT could not reasonably describe itself as a “local, family company.”
The ASA explained the complainant’s concerns to DMT and provided detailed guidance as to how DMT might wish to respond.
“We noted while DMT provided some background information and asserted it was independent of Rotala, it had not provided the level of explanation or evidence we requested in order we could come to an informed view on the relationship between the two companies,” said the ASA. “In its absence, we concluded the claim DMT were a small, family company had not been substantiated and was misleading.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code and must not appear in its current form.