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Home Rulings MT HOMES / N NULLNEEL / 2018-7604F

MT HOMES / N NULLNEEL / 2018-7604F

Mrs Nullneel lodged consumer complaints against the Respondent’s billboard advertisements promoting a 3-bedroom / 2 bath house at Melody Complex in Midrand.

The advertisements states, inter alia, "From R795 000…”
  • "3 Bed / 2 Bath”
  • "Private Garden”
  • "Double Garage”
At the bottom a phone number is listed.

COMPLAINT

The Complainant submitted that she called the number listed and spoke to Cassie. She enquired about the property and was told that the 3 – bedroom which was advertised was price at over 1.2 million and the advertised price was actually for a 2 Bedroom unit.

RELEVANT CLAUSE OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE

In light of the complaint Clause 4.2.1 of Section II (Misleading claims) was taken into consideration.

RESPONSE

Despite repeated attempts to elicit response, and successful contact with the holding company, the Directorate did not receive a response. As a consequence, the Directorate had no option but to rule on the matter based on the information it has at its disposal.

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING

The ASA Directorate considered the relevant documentation submitted by the complainant. 

Jurisdiction

In The Advertising Standards Authority v Herbex (Pty) Ltd (902/16) [2017] ZASCA 132 the Supreme Court of Appeal found, inter alia, that:
1.1 the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (the ASA) has no jurisdiction over any person or entity who is not a member of the ASA and that the ASA may not, in the absence of a submission to its jurisdiction, require non-members to participate in its processes, issue any instruction, order or ruling against the non-member or sanction it;
1.2 the ASA may consider and issue a ruling to its members (which is not binding on non-members) on any advertisement regardless of by whom it is published to determine, on behalf of its members, whether its members should accept any advertisement before it is published or should withdraw any advertisement if it has been published.

The ASA will therefore proceed to consider this matter for the guidance of its members.

Merits

Clause 4.2.1 of Section II states that "advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presentation which, directly or by implication, omission, ambiguity, inaccuracy, exaggerated claim or otherwise, is likely to mislead the consumer”.

The complainant submitted that the respondent’s advertised a 3 – Bedroom property with private garden and double garage "from R795 000” and she was told that a 3 bedroomed property was priced at over R1.2 million, and the R795 000 was for a two bedroomed property. 

The Respondent has not disputed this, and has not submitted anything to suggest that this is not the case. The Directorate must therefore rule on the presumption that a 2 bedroom unit costs R795 000 and a 3 bedroom unit costs R1.2m. This is in fact supported by the information on the Respondent’s website at http://m-t.co.za/home-sale/melody.

A copy of the billboard provided by the Complainant shows the property price as "from R795 000…”. The billboard clearly states "3 Bed/ 2 Bath”. It does not reflect that there are also 2 bedroom options and that the lower price would therefore apply to the smaller option. The hypothetical reasonable consumer would therefore presume that 3 bedroom units are available from R795 000 which is ex facie not the case.

By virtue of this, the advertisement appears to be misleading and in contravention of Clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code.

In light of the above finding, the respondent is required to:
  • Withdraw the advertisement in its current format;
  • The process to withdraw the advertisement must be actioned with immediate effect on receipt of ruling;
  • The withdrawal of the advertisement must be completed within the deadlines stipulated by Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide; and
  • The advertisement may not be used again in its current format.
The complaint is upheld.

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