Car buying service We Buy Any Car has thrust itself into the public consciousness in recent years with its campaign of annoyingly catchy television adverts. Now, however, the company has found itself in hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority and had one of its commercials banned.
The ASA upheld a complaint from a single viewer and ruled that the advert was misleading, and stated that it must not be shown again in its current form.
The ad at the centre of the decision depicts two men floating in the air, holding on to car shaped balloons, while a voiceover states:
"When you're selling you car you can often get knocked down on the price. And, woah, it's not nice. But with webuyanycar.com's price guarantee, if your car is in the condition you say it is we guarantee to pay the price we quote. So, no nasty surprises. To get a guaranteed price, enter your reg number now, at webuyanycar.com."
The complainant took umbrage at the phrase "no nasty surprises", as the advert made no reference to We Buy Any Car's mandatory administration fee.
The ASA agreed, citing breaches to the Broadcasting Committee of Advertising Practice Code, specifically the sections regarding "misleading advertising" and "qualification".
This was despite the company arguing that as it hadn't misled customers, as the prices it quoted did not exclude any administration fees, even if no specific mention was given to them.
In its ruling, the ASA said: "We considered that, given the reference to 'no nasty surprises' was made in the context of a claim about a guaranteed price that the advertiser would pay, viewers would interpret it as meaning that, should they proceed with a sale, they would be paid the quoted price without any charges applying to the sale.
"While we acknowledged that sellers would be paid the full purchase price quoted by We Buy Any Car on their website, they would nevertheless, have to pay the administration fee to proceed with the sale. Therefore, we concluded that the claim 'So, no nasty surprises' was misleading."