ASA Uphold 3 Complaints on Misleading Advertising

asa.ashxA Safety in Beauty Campaign Team Member has successfully presented three advertising complaints to the ASA which have been upheld – Safety In Beauty is an independent public safety campaign run voluntarily by professionals and administered purely on a self funded basis.

Our objective is to help safeguard the public in the cosmetic, aesthetic and beauty industry.

Response by The Advertising Standards Authority

“We’ve now considered all the information provided by yourself and Combine OpCo, and agree with you that claims on the website are likely to mislead consumers.

We’ve instructed Combine OpCo to make a series of amendments to their website, and they have now provided the following assurances about how they will amend their advertising:

1. The claim “We offer UNLIMITED FREE aftercare with all of our cosmetic surgery procedures”

As you pointed out, the claim states “Unlimited FREE Aftercare”, when in actual fact there are unlimited free appointments, but there is not unlimited free aftercare. Therefore, the claim is likely to mislead consumers into thinking that the whole aftercare service is unlimited. Combine OpCo have now agreed to amend the claim to state “FREE Aftercare with unlimited appointments”.

2. The claim “The Hospital Group has over 20 years’ experience in providing cosmetic and weight loss surgery”

We understand that Combine OpCo acquired the company in a pre-pack administration with a number of debts not recovered. We therefore believe the claim “over 20 years’ experience” is likely to misleadingly suggests that the company has had 20 years of financial stability. Combine OpCo have now agreed to amend the claim so that it does not suggest that the company has been trading continuously for 20 years, and will instead refer to the combined experience of their surgeons.

3. The claims “we select specialists in the field of aesthetic cosmetic surgery” and “we only select specialist GMC registered cosmetic and bariatric surgeons”

We understand that all the surgeons have expertise in cosmetic surgery, as reflected in the bios on the website, but not all of the surgeons are registered as specialists in cosmetic surgery on the GMC register. Therefore, we consider the claim “we only select specialist GMC registered cosmetic…surgeons” is likely to mislead. Combine OpCo have now agreed to amend this claim so that it does not suggest that all their surgeons are registered with the GMC as specialists.

We consider that these amendments will resolve the complaint without referring the matter to the ASA Council, and will consequently be closing our file. I should explain that in a formal investigation, if the ASA Council decides that an ad is in breach of the Code, the advertisers are told to withdraw or amend it. Because Combine OpCo has already assured us that these claims will be amended, we consider there is little to be gained from continuing with a formal investigation, which would achieve that same outcome.

Although we will not publish full details of your complaint on our website, www.asa.org.uk, basic information including the advertisers’ name and where the ad appeared will appear on Wednesday 1 February.”


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