An agent in Andover, Hampshire has been investigated by the advertising watchdog the ASA for making competitor comparisons within a flyer.
Bournes Town & Country, which has two branches in and around Andover, circulated a flyer featuring a picture of a house previously marketed by a competitor, Austin Hawk, that Bournes Town & Country had subsequently sold.
The text on the flyer compared the listings of the two firms, one saying “3 viewings no sale time wasted” while the other “12 viewings sold STC success”. Additional text then said “originally advertised with your agent then swapped to Bournes”, suggesting the flyers were circulated to homes marketed by Austin Hawk at the time.
The complainant about the flyer said there were a variety of factors which could impact on whether a house sold or not and challenged wither the comparison in the ad was misleading.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) contacted Bournes Town & Country about the complaint and it “agreed not to make competitor comparisons which included details that customers cannot independently verify in the future”, the watchdog said. It also said it had “received assurance from the advertiser they would make their future advertising compliant with the advertising rules”.
The ASA says the advert was not compliant under rule 3.3 of its code. This states that “marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner”.