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ASA overhauls complaints process

01 Dec 2011 12:39 GMT Back
ASA overhauls complaints process
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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has changed the way it handles competitor complaints. 

As of today (1 December), advertisers making a complaint about another advertiser will be required to provide evidence that they have tried to resolve their complaints with their competitor, before the ASA will agree to take on the complaint.

The ASA hopes this will help resolve some complaints in a fair and prompt fashion, in the spirit of fair competition and with the minimum of formality and cost.

A competitor who wishes to make a complaint should raise their concerns with the advertiser, ideally by registered post, or by another means of communication which will guarantee swift receipt by the advertiser. 

The complaint must provide an appropriate degree of detail in relation to the claim and medium in which it appeared, together with the factual basis for the complaint. 

The complaint should be signed or authorised by a senior officer of the competitor complainant, such as a CEO, legal, marketing or regulatory director. He or she must take responsibility for the accuracy of the complaint (and its content), and it should be addressed to a senior officer or other appropriate contact of the advertiser. They should then allow five working days for a response. 

If, at the end of this period, the advertiser has not opened a substantive dialogue or the parties cannot reach an agreement, the complainant may then submit a complaint to the ASA. Any complaint to the ASA should include a copy of the registered letter setting out the concerns as well as a copy of the complete response (if any) from the advertiser. 

The ASA says: “We accept that there may be rare occasions when a competitor complainant will have a good reason not to correspond with an advertiser. In these cases we will retain the discretion to bypass this procedure, if we believe the complainant raises a potentially serious breach of the Advertising Code, or if there are other good reasons to believe that inter-party resolution of the complaint is not appropriate.

“We are confident that this change will benefit advertisers, consumers and the ASA but we will monitor the process over the coming months to ensure it is having a positive impact.”

Posted by 

Nicola Carpenter

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