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Advertising Standards Authority

Changes to ASA handling of competitor complaints come into place tomorrow

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By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

November 30, 2011 | 2 min read

The Advertising Standards Authority’s changes to the way that competitor complaints are dealt with will come into place from 1 December.

Under the new approach, advertisers making a complaint about another advertiser will be required to provide evidence that they have tried to resolve their complaints with their competitor, before the ASA will agree to take on the complaint.

A competitor who wishes to make a complaint should raise their concerns with the advertiser by means of communication which will guarantee rapid delivery, such as registered post. The complaint must provide an appropriate degree of detail in relation to the claim and medium in which it appeared, together with the factual basis for the complaint. If it is from an online communication, the complainant should take a screenshot of the page or pages.

The complaint should be signed or authorised by a senior officer of the competitor complainant, such as CEO or legal/marketing/regulatory director, who takes responsibility for the accuracy of its content, and should be addressed to a senior officer or other appropriate contact of the advertiser.

The advertiser which has the complaint should wait five working days for a response. After this period, if the advertiser has not opened a substantive dialogue or an agreement has not been reached, the complainant may be sent on to the ASA. When the complaint is submitted, a copy of the registered letter setting out the concerns should be sent, along with a copy of the complete response (if any) from the advertiser.

The ASA has said about the new system: “We believe that this process will assist in resolving some complaints in a fair and prompt fashion, in the spirit of fair competition and with the minimum of formality and cost.

“We are confident that this change will benefit advertisers, consumers and the ASA but we will monitor the process over the coming months to ensure it is having a positive impact.”

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