The Advertising Standards Authority deals with complaints regarding the content of an advertisement. If you believe the content of an offer or advertisement to be untruthful, misleading or harmful, you can lodge a complaint with the ASA.
When lodging a complaint with the ASA, the full name, contact details and identity number of the complainant will have to be provided. All complaints must be in writing, and must state the grounds of the complaint and, if possible, details of the advertiser. Details relating to the advertisement should also be included – for print ads, the ad should be attached; for poster and outdoor ads, specify the wording of the ad; for broadcasting media ads (tv, radio or cinema), specify where and when the add was screened/transmitted. The ad must be a current one and/or must have been published within the last 90 days of lodging the complaint. Consumer complaints do not attract a charge.
The complaint can be submitted in the following ways:
- completing the e-complaint form
- emailing details to email@example.com
- faxing details to 011 781 1616
- submitting the complaint by post to P O Box 41555, Craighall, 2024
- submitting the claim physically to Willowview, Burnside Island Office Park, 410 Jan Smuts Avenue, Craighall Park
There is a basic process followed, barring any unforeseen complications.
- Complaints are usually acknowledged within 24 to 48 hours; it is suggested that you follow up if the complaint is not acknowledged in that time, as the ASA receives a large number of complaints daily.
- Once the complaint is received, it is allocated to an assessor to obtain all of the necessary information, including whether the complaint falls within the ASA’s jurisdiction and whether the claim has merit, and sourcing the offending ad if need be.
- If the claim appears to have merit, it is upgraded to a formal investigation and the advertiser is afforded 5 working days to respond in writing.
- The matter is then presented to the Directorate, and a decision is made and a ruling drafted; this is checked and edited by the Legal department, then signed and issued.
The ASA endeavours to finalise all matters within 30 days. Delays can occur, however, such as requesting an expert opinion or granting an extension for replies. There is an appeals process, where the parties are able to physically attend and present their case.
If the advertisement is held to be in breach of the Code of Advertising Practice, the advertiser will be required to amend or withdraw the advertisement.
For further information, see http://www.asasa.org.za/