Geartronics Limited operated a website that sold gearbox systems. Pro-Shift Limited challenged a number of claims that Geartronics made on the website, such as:
- the website was the “Home of the worlds [sic] Best Sequential gearbox Electronic systems”;
- Geartronics had an “enviable reputation”;
- Geartronics had “come to be regarded as one of the very best”; and
- “with Geartronics you get the best quality, functionality, reliability and service” in response to a question about why customers should choose to purchase products from Geartronics over any of its competitors.
Pro-Shift argued that the claims made were in breach of the CAP Code and brought the challenge to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which enforces the CAP Code. The CAP Code is the code of practice that seeks to ensure that adverts are not misleading. Although the CAP Code does not have legal force, it is best practice to comply with it, as failure to do so can result in bad publicity and ultimately an inability to obtain advertising space.
Geartronics argued that the claims it made were subjective, and so did not need to be backed up by any evidence in order to comply with the CAP Code.
The ASA ruled that Geartronics’ claims were misleading and breached the CAP Code. The ASA considered the context in which the claims were made, including that many of the claims were made together as part of the “Q & A” part of the website, and ruled that a consumer would expect the claims made to be supported by substantial evidence to show the grounds on which such comparative claims were made. Geartronics had not provided this evidence.
The ASA also considered whether claims made about the specifications of Geartronics’ products were in breach of the CAP Code as they could not be substantiated, and ruled that, again, Geartronics was in breach.