Some months ago I wrote an article entitled “When is an auction not an auction?” highlighting what I thought was a misleading practice of the reporting of completed auction sales which were not sold under the hammer.
At the time I highlighted the advert published by Barfoot & Thompson which proudly proclaimed “593 Successful Auctions. All in April, all in Auckland, all by one company” That style of advert has continued to be published each month since then confidently stating the number of ‘successful’ auctions as the sum of those sold under the hammer, together with those properties sold pre-auction and those sold post-auction.
That article attracted a couple of encouraging comments supporting my view that the advertising was misleading. Encouraged by these comments and my own sense of principle I decided to file a formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regarding the advert and subsequent adverts.
I filed a complaint stating that under the Rules and Code of Ethics these adverts were misleading and likely to deceive consumers into believing that the number of 'successful' auctions were more than the facts show.
The Complaints Board of the ASA judged that there was a case to answer and the board deliberated over the claim at a session held in August. The outcome of that hearing is now public record and accessible on the ASA website.
The outcome was that the complaint was not upheld
I was disappointed in the findings of the board. I respect the process and the organization. i do not intend to appeal the decision. The complaint is public record and the full decision can be read via a download file of the full written decision, if you are so inclined.
The summary of the decision of the board in not upholding the complaint was that "the advert should be read as a whole and on an objective basis, not only taken on part". That is to say they judged that the full analysis of the sales conducted pre-auction, under the hammer and post-auction were satisfactory to provide explanation to the headline and therefore the headline was not misleading.