Graham Allman Associates get their knuckles rapped, Barrel-Dregs

By | August 17, 2011

Pub Commercial Agents get their knuckles rapped

ASA Adjudication on Graham Allman Associates

 

Graham Allman Associates t/a GA-Select

Select Suite
17 The Green
Ashby-De-La-Zouch
Leicestershire
LE65 1JU

Date:

17 August 2011

Media:

Internet (on own site)

Sector:

Business

Number of complaints:

1

Complaint Ref:

A11-156376

Ad

Claims on GA Select’s website included “GA Select uniquely operates under license from the DTI – OFFICE of FAIR TRADING (OFT) and is a practicing style of Graham Allman Associates Limited. The company was formed by Graham Allman in 1983 on the back of Graham’s experience within two of the most successful breweries of the time, BASS PLC and WHITBREAD where Graham held board responsibility for operational and property development. Today the firm operates very much as a user friendly family business with strong ethics and customer service focus with ongoing professional training for everyone within the organization. We have a well proven track record of success within our trade sector and are ‘ranked’ within the top four National agencies within the licensed trade by an independent survey, something that Graham and his team are very proud of however Graham believes ‘that no man is an island’ and that the team are his real strength”.

Issue

A retired consultant to the industry challenged whether the claims:

1. “GA Select uniquely operates under license from the DTI – OFFICE of FAIR TRADING (OFT) and is a practicing style of Graham Allman Associates Limited” misleadingly implied that the advertiser had been accredited in some way, when they understood that the license referred to was a consumer credit license, which were issued in the tens of thousands;

2. “The company was formed by Graham Allman in 1983” was misleading and could be substantiated

3. “… on the back of Graham’s experience within two of the most successful breweries of the time, BASS PLC and WHITBREAD where Graham held board responsibility for operational and property development” misleadingly implied that Mr Allman had sat on the board of those companies; and

4. “We have a well proven track record of success within our trade sector and are ‘ranked’ within the top four National agencies within the licensed trade by an independent survey” was misleading and could be substantiated.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

1. Graham Allman Associates (GAA) said there was no implication that the firm was accredited in any way by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), but that as they operated under licence this was itself accreditation as the firm had to undergo checking and verification of its conditions, which were monitored. They said there was also a complaints procedure in place which also implied accreditation in some form. They said the fact that consumer credit licences were issued in the tens of thousands had no bearing on the matter. They said they needed the licence to provide the services they offered and therefore it was only reasonable that the fact they held one was stated on their website.

2. GAA said that GA Select was a trading/practicing style of Graham Allman Associates Ltd, which was incorporated in 2004. They said they had been trading as GA Select since 1983, initially as a partnership and at different times as an incorporated limited company. They said they could provide evidence that GA Select had been trading since 1983.

3. GAA said that Graham Allman had worked for Bass plc between 1975 and 1983, and had sat on the board for operational and property development. They said that, alongside running GA Select, he was an employee of Whitbread plc between 1985 and 2001, where he sat on several boards with operational and property development responsibility. They said this had been checked by way of references on many occasions, including by the DTI. They said they could not, however, provide evidence with regard to the positions other than providing information on pensions relating to Mr Allman’s employment at the companies.

4. GAA said the independent survey was undertaken by the Publican Magazine and Morning Advertiser in 2010. They said that the Publican Magazine had nowclosed down and the journalist responsible for the survey had moved on, so theywere unable to provide a copy of the survey.

Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA considered the claim “GA Select uniquely operates under license from   the DTI – OFFICE of FAIR TRADING (OFT)” implied that GAA was the only company which held a licence from the former DTI and/or the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), that that licence was specific and unique to GAA, and that therefore GAA was specially endorsed by the former DTI and/or OFT. We noted the licence to which GAA referred was a consumer credit licence, which was issued by the OFT, and that companies were required to have that licence to carry out a number of different business activities, including if they sold goods or services on credit or arranged credit for others. We noted there were therefore many companies that held the licence and it was not unique to GAA and did not equate to a special endorsement from the OFT. Furthermore, we considered that consumers would be likely to recognise the DTI acronym and even if they were aware that the department had been replaced with two separate departments in 2007, they would infer from the claim that GAA was endorsed by a government department concerned with trade and industry, which was not the case. We therefore concluded the claim was misleading.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.50 (Endorsements and Testimonials).

2. Upheld

We noted the claim in its entirety stated “The company was formed by Graham Allman in 1983 on the back of Graham’s experience within two of the most successful breweries of the time, BASS PLC and WHITBREAD.” We noted that GAA had informed us that Mr Allman did not begin working at Whitbread until 1985, which was, according to GAA, two years after he had begun trading under the name GA Select. We considered the claim therefore implied that Mr Allman had a greater range of experience before setting up GA Select than was the case, and it was therefore misleading in that regard.

We noted that the company Graham Allman Associates Ltd had not been incorporated until 2004, but the claim was based on their assertion that Mr Allman had been trading under the name GA Select since 1983. We also noted that, whilst GAA had stated they had evidence to substantiate the claim, they had not provided that evidence to us, despite being given the opportunity to do so.
Because we had not seen evidence to substantiate the claim, we concluded the claim was misleading.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).

3. Upheld

We considered the claim implied that Mr Allman had sat on the board of Directors of both Bass and Whitbread. We noted GAA’s assertion that Mr Allman had sat on the boards for operational and property development at both companies, but considered that, because the claim implied that Mr Allman had been a Director responsible for those areas and we had not seen evidence that was the case, the claim was misleading.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).

4. Upheld

We noted GAA were unable to provide a copy of the independent survey. Because we had not seen any evidence to substantiate the claim, we concluded the claimn was misleading.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising)n and 3.7 (Substantiation).

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told GAA not to make claims which implied they were uniquely licensed or endorsed by the OFT or any other government department, or to make claims for which they did not hold  adequate substantiation.

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and www.buyingapub.com accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.

 

 

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