A banner ad for the Capital One credit card ended “Click to Apply … 1-minute response guarantee.” So did this mean that any old response within 1 minute would do or did it have to be acceptance or rejection in that timeframe? Elena Baranova’s report is seconds away from this link.
Topic: Financial services
Who: Capital One Bank (Europe) plc
When: April 2009
Where: United Kingdom
Law stated as at: April 2009
The Advertising Standards Authority ("ASA") ruled Capital One Bank must no longer use an internet advert which, the ASA held, implied that online approvals of credit card applications are decided within one minute of submitting the application.
The ASA received a complaint that a banner ad by Capital One Bank Europe plc ("Capital One") for its Capital One credit card was misleading.
The ad stated "Last year we accepted a customer every minute …Easy to apply" and then, below a picture of the Capital One card, "Click to Apply … 1 minute response guarantee".
An applicant for a Capital One credit card complained that the advert led him to believe that his application would be declined or approved within one minute from the application. However, rather than a message stating the approval or the declining, he received an on screen message that stated he would have a response to his application in seven days.
Capital One stated that the advert "Click to Apply … 1 minute response guarantee" was not misleading as the word "response" did not mean a lending decision would be made immediately. Sometimes the response could be an immediate lending decision but it was not always possible, they said, because the applicant might have provided insufficient information.
The bank pointed out that all applicants always received a response within one minute. This was an automatic response notifying the applicant that the application was under consideration and they would subsequently be informed of a decision or asked to provide additional information.
Capital One has subsequently confirmed that they will remove the statement "Last year we accepted a customer every minute…" from the advert.
The ASA noted that some applicants received a lending decision within one minute. However the majority of the applicants were shown an on screen holding message.
The ASA considered that the combined use of the statements "Last year we accepted a customer every minute" and "1 minute response guarantee" was likely to lead applicants to understand they would receive a lending decision, accepting or rejecting their application, within one minute.
On the basis that the applicants were likely to expect a lending decision within one minute and the majority of applicants did not receive a lending decision within that time, ASA concluded the advertisement was misleading and breached the Committee of Advertising Practice code on truthfulness (clauses 7.1 and 7.2) and therefore the advert must not appear again in its current form.
Why this matters:
Online advertising is a vital way for companies to generate business. However, companies need to remember that online advertising should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society and should not, when read as a whole, mislead by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration or otherwise.