Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Soul & Spirit Magazine - 2 Free DVDs not included

Since I'm banned* from submitting complaints about psychics to the ASA at the moment, it was only the promise of "2 FREE DVDs WORTH £10!" that persuaded me to part with £3.50 to buy Soul & Spirit Magazine.

Imagine my disappointment, dear reader, when the magazine contained a grand total of no DVDs!

In fact, the 'free' DVDs are only available by post - and it'll cost you £2.24 in postage.

I think this is misleading - and a recent ASA adjudication lends some credence to my opinion. Let's see what they have to say about this complaint!

"I write to complain about the magazine "Soul & Spirit" (May 2010, Issue 28).

I suspect that the magazine may be in breach of three sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code.

I can provide an original copy of the magazine by post, if required. I have enclosed scans of the brochure, and a further scan of the magazine and the brochure, aligned as they would be inside the plastic wrapping.

1. The May 2010 issue of the magazine is distributed together with a larger brochure promoting a set of DVDs.

2. The two items - the magazine and the larger brochure - are tightly wrapped in plastic, so that the magazine obscures most of the brochure. When looking at the front cover of the magazine, the only text visible at the top of the brochure reads "2 FREE* DVDS WORTH £10**".

3. Since the two items are wrapped tightly together, I argue that the text "2 FREE* DVDS WORTH £10**" constitutes a "Front page flash" under Section 36.1 of the CAP code.

4. The CAP Code, Section 7.1, states "No marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise."

5. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the front page flash is misleading by implying that the magazine contains two DVDs when, in fact, it does not. Specifically:

(i) No part of the visible text clarifies that the DVDs are not included in the magazine (the ASA ajudication of 7th April 2010, Ref 115291, addressed this very matter)

(ii) The plastic wrapping adds to the impression that the magazine contains the DVDs

(iii) The text on the brochure which states "*postage charge applies", the text which states "**combined value of both gifts" and the larger text which states "for every Soul & Spirit reader" is obscured by the top of the magazine.

6. The CAP Code, Section 27.4, states "Promoters should avoid causing unnecessary disappointment."

7. Under Section 27.4, I complain that I, personally, was disappointed having bought a copy of the magazine, expecting it to contain two free DVDs worth £10.

8. I challenge whether the magazine's front page flash is in breach of Section 27.4.

9. The CAP Code, Section 36.1, states "...Major conditions that might reasonably influence consumers significantly in their decision to buy the publication should appear on the front page or cover"

10. Under Section 36.1, I challenge whether a major condition that might reasonably influence consumers significantly in their decision to buy the magazine, namely that the magazine did not contain free DVDs, has appeared on the front page or cover of the magazine.

11. I confirm that I have no connections with the magazine, and I am not involved in legal proceedings with the magazine."

(*With my blessing - the ASA have been besieged with complaints about "accurate" clairvoyants, the majority of them written by me, and - not unreasonably - they want to put the kettle on, put their feet up, and have a jolly good think about what to do next.)