The Money Shop has been told by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that its television advert must not be run again in its current form, after the watchdog upheld a complaint by a viewer.
The ad stated in the voice-over, “No cash until pay day when …” The ad then showed a man not being able to fill his car with petrol, a woman breaking her key in the lock and a woman spilling a cup of coffee over her laptop. The voice-over continued, “No cash? No worries. A pay day loan from the Money Shop takes care of life’s little emergencies. No hassle, no problem. With a Money Shop payday loan that will tide you over until your next payday. So whenever you need short-term cash for life’s little emergencies come to the Money Shop.” Actors portraying customers said “Brilliant, I’ve just made today my pay day”, “That was so simple” and “Sweet, I just got £200 in no time.”
On-screen text in a translucent box stated “Representative example: £100 for only £10 (normally £19.79*). Total amount repayable in a single payment of £110 in 30 days. Interest rate 10% (variable). 219.1% APR representative. Visit www.moneyshop.tv *print offer voucher and bring in store. T & C’s apply. All loans subject to status & affordability. Customers must be18+.” The text “219.1% APR” appeared larger than the other text.
A viewer challenged whether the representative example and the representative APR rate (RAPR) were sufficiently prominent.
Instant Cash Loans (Money Shop) said the ad did not trigger a requirement to include the representative example because it did not mention an amount relating to the cost of credit. They therefore believed that they were not legally required to include the standard information by way of a representative example, although they chose to do so anyway.
Money Shop believed prominence should be determined by taking the context of the ad as a whole. They did not believe the example was unclear or that it breached any prominence rules because it appeared on a semi-transparent background. They believed the ad complied with Regulation 5(6)(a) of the Consumer Credit (Advertisement) Regulations 2010 (the Regulations) which required a representative example to be clear and concise. They believed the representative example was prominent because it was white text displayed against a black background and appeared on screen throughout the ad; they believed that gave viewers sufficient time to read it.
The ASA noted Money Shop’s view that the ad did not trigger the requirement to include the RAPR or a representative example. However, it understood from the OFT that the amount of £10 quoted in the text “£100 for only £10” (which appeared within the representative example on screen) was, in their view, “an amount relating to the cost of credit” under Regulation 4(1) of the Regulations. Because of that, they considered that the ad did trigger the requirement to include a representative example which included the RAPR.
The OFT also considered that the full claim “£100 for only £10 (normally £19.79)” was also an incentive for the purposes of regulation 6(1)(b) which triggered the requirement to include the RAPR in the ad. Because the OFT considered the ad included an amount relating to the cost of credit and an incentive, it therefore assessed whether the ad complied with the Regulations.
Regulation 5(1) required the standard information that made up the representative example to include the rate of interest, whether fixed, variable or both, the nature and amount of any other charge included in the total charge for credit, the total amount of credit and the RAPR. While the example did include all of that information, Regulation 5(6)(c), however, required that information to be presented together, with each item of information being given equal prominence. The RAPR “219.1% APR” was displayed in larger text, which we considered gave it more prominence than the remaining standard information.
Regulation 6(1)(b) required credit ads to include the RAPR when they included an incentive and Regulation 6(2) required that RAPR to be given greater prominence than the incentive. Regulation 5(6)(d) required that the standard information that made up the representative example be given greater prominence than information relating to a cost of credit or an incentive.
To comply with the Regulations, the ASA therefore considered that the remaining standard information that made up the representative example should have been the same size as the RAPR and larger than the incentive “£100 for only £10 (normally £19.79)”. Because it was not, the ad regulator considered the representative example was not sufficiently prominent and concluded the ad breached the Code on this technical point.
On this point, the ad breached BCAP Code rule 14.11 (Lending and Credit).