On 5th January 2011, the Advertising Standards Authority in London issued what they call an "Assessment" but which we lawyers would call a" judgment", in that its publication has consequences with which the parties must comply.
Let us wind back 7 months……
In April 2010, RDO’s Enforcement team passed over to the Secretariat a bulky draft report on the activities of ITRA and Club Class in Spain and the UK. Over the next couple of weeks this report was refined down into an acceptable format for the ASA, and TATOC were also consulted and agreed to mount a joint complaint with RDO to the ASA about the content of the ITRA TV ads on UK television channels.
For those who are unaware of these ads (and it’s too late to see them now as will become apparent),they were aimed at UK timeshare owners who were encouraged to contact ITRA if they had concerns over such things as maintenance fees/exchange problems etc. They were then promised the possibility of joining a class action, but what they weren’t made aware of was that if they agreed to attend a meeting with ITRA representatives, they would then be persuaded to attend a presentation by Club Class and if possible sold a holiday pack (shortly to be the subject of new legislation coming into force next month in the UK).
Some may baulk at the fact that it took the ASA some 7 months to conclude that the TV ad was misleading and should not be shown again – during which time of course ITRA were able to continue to air the ad and take advantage of more innocent timeshare owners. That said, it is recognised that the ASA had to be sure of its position if it was to avoid litigation and challenge to its assessment once made public. At least we won!
The object of this story?
We are busy raising funding for the Enforcement project for 2011 to be funded by the Timeshare Partnership Trust and so far the result has been encouraging but we do still need more developers and their owners to join in contributing to the fund if the Trust is to successfully support this and TATOC’s Helpline this year.
It was only possible for this challenge to be mounted against ITRA’s ads by dogged hard work collecting consumer complaints and presenting the case. This work must continue and must be funded!