The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have today started accepting complaints about online marketing claims.
Given the preponderance of lies and delusions infesting every dark corner of the interwebs, many have suggested - with quite some alarm - that the poor ASA will be swamped with angry letters.
Personally, I don't understand the fuss. Since the ASA's remit was extended (it happened exactly five minutes ago, by the way), I've only been able to submit three complaints. That works out at just 264,384 complaints for the rest of 2011.
Hardly a deluge, is it?
It can hardly have escaped my readers' notice that I have a somewhat inflated ego. Guarding against the possibility that the poor galley slaves in Holborn will have to start prioritising, I want to make sure my letters stay near the top of the pile.
Can any of my fellow sceptical letter writers boast a more odious target than this one?
Ray Balmain thinks he can use his magical fingers to cure cancer. Not just any old cancer, mind you, but
"Prostrate Cancer... Thyroid Cancer... M[yalgic] E[ncephalopathy]... Breast Cancer... Leukaemia... Skin Cancer... Liver Cancer... Lung Disease..."
There is always a risk that criminal like Balmain might take down their websites before the authorities have time to investigate them. Luckily, Ray was careful enough to get a write-up on his illegal activities in the local paper. Nice one, Ray!
ASA complaint follows. God speed!
I'm writing to complain about the marketing claims on Ray Balmain's website, www.rjbhealing.com.
Mr Balmain is a "Spiritual Healer" who lives in Newcastle.
I'd like to challenge whether Mr Balmain can substantiate any of the following claims I found on his website today:
(i) "I help anybody with any illness with 'hands on' [sic] healing and 'distant [sic] healing'"
(ii) "Some of the illnesses that I have helped with include: Prostrate Cancer... Thyroid Cancer... M[yalgic] E[ncephalopathy]... Breast Cancer... Leukaemia... Skin Cancer... Liver Cancer... Lung Disease..."
(iv) "Hands-on therapy [with Ray Balmain] beat my cancer"
(v) "Ray Balmain started healing my daughter when she had leukemia [sic], she then developed heart failure, a stroke, chronic lung disease... Ray was adamant she would not die... When your child is dying you are desperate and will try anything and thank god I tried Ray..."
(vi) "I was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2002 it travelled to my liver, there was no cure only chemotherapy to help shrink it. Then Ray Balmain spiritual healer started giving me 'hands on healing' 6 months later my cancer was completely gone..."
(vii) "I recently had a prolapsed disc which was operated on... Ray came to see me on the 6th day and about 30 minutes after healing I felt an intense heat at the site of my operation. I stood up and was able to walk without pain - it was nothing short of a miracle!"
(viii) "I was diagnosed with Leukaemia in November 2008. Not only did Ray give me hands on [sic] healing, but also gave me numerous free distance healings [sic]... The Doctors were amazed at my recovery..."
I'd also like to challenge whether the claims are likely to discourage people from seeking essential treatment for serious diseases, particularly in relation to these five claims:
(ix) "I was introduced to Ray in January 2009 after finding a lump in the left side of my neck. At the time I had a 9 month old son and had been told by 2 consultants it was likely to be Cancer. This was devastating news and when Ray first came to see me I was a wreck going through weeks of tests at various hospitals. Before a diagnosis was finally made Ray told me that the lump wasn't cancer, it wasn't coming from anywhere in my body and was just located in my neck. He said it was like a 'waste matter' but not life threatening..."
(x) "I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, early in 2003 I was introduced to healing by Ray... Ray visited me every week and also gave me distant healing... I did not like the chemotherapy and gave up against doctors [sic] advice... Despite this I went into remission, I believe this was down to the healing I received from Ray..."
(xi) "Diagnosed with advanced, aggressive prostate cancer in December 2004, I was told I had maybe 3 years to live... Six years [later] I am fit and well, the cancer inactive..."
(xii) "My niece in Boston was diagnosed with cancer of the thyroid and lymph nodes... She had surgery and Ray started the healing for her. Even though the cancer was advanced, she has now returned to work after six months, no chemo was required..."
(xiii) "Her bowel was rupturing. Surgery would been the last thing [doctors] wanted to do... Ray began healing, the bowel came right and no surgery..."