The ASA investigated a marketing SMS sent to private individuals’ mobile telephones. In just over 100 characters, three breaches of the CAP Code (and probably at least two of the law) were achieved. Omar Bucchioni tells us more.
Topic: Mobile marketing
Who: ASA and Claim Management UK Ltd
Where: United Kingdom
When: 28 October 2009
Law stated as at: 30 November 2009
Recently the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated an SMS text message which was sent by Claim Management UK Ltd (“CMU”) to private individuals’ mobile telephones. The SMS stated: “CMUK. DO YOU HAVE DEBT ON CREDIT CARDS + LOANS? THE DEBT MAY BE UNENFORCEABLE! FOR INFO CALL 01792 473533. OPT OUT TEXT ‘0’”.
The complainant objected that the SMS was sent unsolicited and that it had not made sufficiently clear the identity of the advertiser.
To the above objections, the ASA added their concern as to whether the claim exaggerated the likelihood of being able to write off debts.
Claim Management UK Ltd responds to the ASA
CMU commented that they worked from a referral database and could not specify from where the recipients’ details had been obtained. In addition, they assured the ASA that they had officially stopped using marketing text messages, stating that “it was impossible to make this method of advertising work within the given parameters”.
The ASA response
The ASA decided that the text breached the section of the CAP Code on Database Practice because CMU did not provide evidence to demonstrate that the complainant had given CMU permission to send ads to them. In addition, the ASA pointed out that marketers have to identify themselves in any mobile marketing communications (i.e. stating their full name – not just an abbreviation like CMUK).
The ASA also held that the text exaggerated the likelihood of customers being able to write off their debts.
Why this matters:
No less than six years on from the introduction into UK law and the CAP Code of basic requirements for unsolicited marketing text messages such as prior consent and proper identification of senders, this case shows that compliance is by no means universal and marketers still need to check and re-check such messages before they are sent.
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