Consumer Issues
ASCI on WhatsApp: Consumers can now send snaps of objectionable ads
Spot a bad advertisement? Snap and WhatsApp to +91-77100 12345 and ASCI will take the necessary action
 
Bringing more ease to consumers, the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) has introduced a new feature where complaint against any objectionable ad can be sent through WhatsApp. The number for sending such complaints on WhatsApp is +91-77100 12345.
 
"We are happy to launch the WhatsApp number, close to the World Consumer Rights Day on 15th March. ASCI is truly empowering consumers by making it more accessible. Today almost every person with a smartphone is using messaging services such as WhatsApp. Technology makes it possible for them to flag false, misleading or offensive ads instantaneously and anytime anywhere while on the go - be it while reading newspapers at home, on their way to office, listening to radio or watching TV in the evening," says Benoy Roychowdhury, Chairman of ASCI.
 
ASCI in a release said, WhatsApp will serve as only the first touch point for consumers to reach ASCI with their main objections and images of the objectionable advertisement. "Consumers can send pictures of print ads, hoardings, packaging or screen shots of websites, or links of YouTube videos. ASCI team would be scrutinising these complaints and take it further if found valid as well as having complete details such as name and e-mail ID. The complainant would receive status updates on the complaint by SMS and email. The WhatsApp number is not meant for commercial purpose. The complaint processing is free for consumers, in line with the ASCI's mission of promoting self-regulation of advertising content and protecting consumers' interest," it added.

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The Fine Print - Read It
A reminder during National Consumer Protection Week to mind the teeny words at the bottom of ads
 
Ah, the fine print – the teeny words at the bottom of an ad that contain the details of an offer. Even radio ads use a similar tactic where a fast-talking announcer rambles off some lingo at the beginning or end of a commercial. Many of us tune out and don’t even see or hear the fine print in ads. 
The problem is that advertisers are onto us and some take advantage of our tendency to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the pesky little details.
 
The Good News?
 
There are rules in place that are meant to protect us. First, fine print isn’t supposed to contradict other statements in an ad or clear up false impressions the ad might leave. In other words, what the headline giveth, the fine print is not supposed to taketh away.
Second, disclosures should be “clear and conspicuous.” That means the important stuff is not supposed to be hidden in teeny tiny print. How to know if a disclosure meets the “clear and conspicuous” standard? Well, there aren’t any hard and fast rules about the size of type in a print ad or the length of time a disclosure must appear on TV, but the FTC does use a 4-pronged test to determine if an ad’s fine print passes muster:
  1. Prominence: is the fine print big enough for people to notice and read? 
  2. Presentation: is the wording and format easy for people to understand? 
  3. Placement: is the fine print where people will look? 
  4. Proximity: is the fine print near the claim it qualifies?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then the fine print doesn’t comply with the law.
 
The Bad News?
 
There are plenty of advertisers who believe rules are meant to be broken (just see some examples below). The best way to protect yourself against unexpected disclaimers is to pull out that magnifying glass and read the fine print (as painful as that may be). Of course, you can’t do that when the ad plays on TV and the fine print is displayed for 3 seconds. In those situations, make sure you ask for the details and disclaimers before you whip out your credit card.
Here are some examples of fine print that would mostly fail to meet the FTC’s 4-prong test:
Lane Bryant:
 
The big, bold writing tells you that “absolutely everything” in the “entire store” is 40 percent off. But once you take a closer look at the fine print, you’ll find that, by “entire store,” they don’t really mean the “entire store,” and by “absolutely everything,” they don’t really mean “absolutely everything.” Beyond that, though, the ad is entirely and absolutely accurate.
 
Dell:
 
 
In 2011, Dell trumpeted its XPS-15 laptop as “the thinnest 15” PC on the planet” in British newspapers. However, the ads included fine print that revealed that the claim was based on comparisons with models manufactured by Acer, Asus, Hewlett Packard, Lenovo, MSI, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba. The disclosure went on to mention that “no comparison [was] made with Apple or other manufacturers not listed.” Kind of begs the question, what planet are they talking about?
 
CashCall.com:
 
 
CashCall tells us that we can “borrow $1,000 or $5,000 in as fast as a day.” True, but the loan comes with a ginormous annual interest rate. The fine print that flashes up on the screen explains that the company will give you an instant loan of $2,600, but that the loan comes with a whopping 99.25 percent APR!
 
Crayola “Washable” Bubbles:
 
 
A revolution in the bubble industry! And safe for clothes, too! Only, it turns out that “some bubbles” in the ad were “recreated” (note the disclaimer at the 0:12 second mark of the ad). And the clothes-safe part? Well, sort of. The fine print you can barely read at the 0:22 second mark (don’t blink!) says that it may require a few washings.
 
Not surprisingly, a Washington mom filed a class-action lawsuit against Crayola alleging false advertising because the ads and labeling indicated that the bubbles were “washable.” Result? Crayola agreed to provide refunds and vouchers to those who purchased the product in 2011, in addition to paying for damages to property and clothing. Crayola has also reformulated the product for 2012 and guess what? They don’t say “washable” anymore. 
 

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Two-wheeler taxi services uberMOTO, Ola Bike launched
Bengaluru : Leading app-based cab aggregator rivals Uber and Ola on Thursday launched pilot on-demand two-wheeler taxi services uberMOTO and Ola Bike, respectively.
 
"We are very excited to pilot uberMOTO in Bangalore -- pairing our on-demand technology platform with motorbikes... uberMOTO will offer another affordable mobility option that will help people save time and money while helping cut congestion in our cities over time," said Uber India president Amit Jain in a statement.
 
uberMOTO's minimum fare is pegged at Rs.15 followed by Rs.3 per km and Re.1 per minute of travel time.
 
About Ola's motorcycle taxi offering Ola Bike, COO Pranay Jivrajka said: "We are excited to launch the pilot of Ola Bike in Bangalore today."
 
"This will help users get to where they want to be within minutes, especially in traffic-prone cities like ours," Jivrajka said.
 
Ola Bike comes with a minimum fare of Rs.30, Rs.2 per km and Re.1 per minute of trip time.
 
Both uberMOTO and Ola Bike motorcycle taxis have made arrangement to provide helmets to pillion riders and put safety measures like driver details displayed upfront, SOS, GPS tracking, two-way feedback and the ability to share trip details with family and friends in place.
 
Uber also highlighted that two-wheeler owners can become drivers on its platform and recoup expenses for their trips.
 
Currently, uberMOTO is available at Jakkur, Banaswadi, Whitefield, Sarjapura, Begur, Kothnur, Hosakerehalli, Vijaya Nagar and Yeshwantpur areas in Bengaluru.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

2 years ago

I hope this service comes to auto rickshaws too.

I am sick of the hassle I face at the bus and train station in Pune from auto rickshaw drivers for rides to Camp, Koregaon Park, etc. Not out of the way destinations too.

In spite of writing to newspapers about this rampant fleecing of customers, nothing has changed. Only an Uber or Ola service will make these thieves behave themselves.

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