Michele Knight is a successful entrepeneur, the owner of a successful telephone psychic reading service.
Michele's double-page ad in this month's Soul and Spirit magazine (available here and here) is full of glowing testimonials. I'd like to know whether Michele has compiled the proper paperwork.
I'd also like to know whether, taken together, the twelve testimonials constitute a claim of "accuracy".
"I write to complain about an advert in “Soul And Spirit" Magazine (April 2010, pages 76-77), which promotes a telephone psychic reading service for Michele Knight Ltd.
I suspect that the advert may be in breach of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code.
I have submitted a scan of the advert. I can provide an original copy of the advert by post, if required.
1. The CAP Code, Section 14.1, states "Marketers should hold signed and dated proof, including a contact address, for any testimonial they use. Unless they are genuine opinions taken from a published source, testimonials should be used only with the written permission of those giving them."
2. I challenge whether the advertiser holds signed and dated proof, including a contact address, for each of the twenty-four testimonials appearing in the advert.
3. The CAP Code, Section 3.1, states "Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."
4. The CAP Code, Section 14.3, states "Testimonials alone do not constitute substantiation and the opinions expressed in them must be supported, where necessary, with independent evidence of their accuracy. Any claims based on a testimonial must conform with the Code."
5. I challenge whether the testimonials, taken together, constitute an implied claim of accuracy (Section 3.1), given that
(i) The words "accurate" or "accurary" appear six times
(ii) The phrase "spot on" appears six times
(iii) The phrases "precise", "he was right" and "she told me things that she could not possibly have known" each appear once
(iv) Under Section 14.1 of the Code, "Testimonials alone do not constitute substantiation"
6. If the testimonials, taken together, do in fact constitute an implied claim of accuary, I challenge whether the advertiser can provide independent evidence of their accuracy (Section 14.3).
7. I challenge (under Section 3.1) whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove the claim that "each [of the readers featured] has been tested by me".
8. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, with the magazine, or with the publishing industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine.
9. I confirm that I am happy to be identified as the complainant."