ASCI Upholds Complaints against 145 Advertisements out of 180
In February 2019, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) investigated complaints against 243 advertisements, of which the advertisers ensured corrective action for 63 advertisements once they received complaints from ASCI.
 
The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI upheld complaints against 145 advertisements out of 180 advertisements evaluated by them. Of these 145 advertisements, 83 belonged to the healthcare sector, 33 to the education sector, ten to the food & beverages sector, one to personal care and 18 were from the ‘others’ category. 
 
Majority of the flagged ads were upheld for "exaggeration of product efficacy and exploiting consumers’ lack of knowledge." This was followed by violation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act (DMR Act). A large number of these advertisements were digital, i.e,. advertisers’ own websites carrying the objectionable claims and visuals. 
 
For the food & beverages (F&B) sector, the CCC found a couple of well-known brands referring to ayurvedic or herbal ingredients known for their memory enhancing properties; however, the associated claims were not substantiated. A popular cooking oil was making claims regarding the oil being 'Lite' and 'Less absorbent' without any robust technical support data. An A-2 cow milk brand was projecting its products to have some unique immunity benefits or miraculous effects that were not substantiated by any scientific rationale or clinical evidence.
 
Additionally, a couple of brands were making improper use of the FSSAI logo implying that the product has been tested / approved / endorsed by FSSAI. This was also in violation of the FSSAI advisory against such use which is not in the prescribed format.
 
Over the past one year, in the F&B sector alone, ASCI’s CCC examined over 300 advertisements for misleading claims. This was a result of the co-regulation model under which FSSAI had given ASCI a mandate for comprehensive Suo Motu surveillance of potentially misleading advertisements in print media and television. Such arrangement provides a win-win for stakeholders wherein self-regulatory organisations ensure a better advertising ecosystem and the regulators can intervene only when necessary, thus bringing synergies in efficiency. 
 
HEALTHCARE - Total of 83 advertisements complained against
 
Direct Complaints (58 advertisements)
Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI (25 advertisements)
 
EDUCATION - Total of 33 advertisements complained against
Direct Complaints (One advertisements)
Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI (32 advertisements)
 
FOOD AND BEVERAGES - Total of ten advertisements complained against
Direct Complaints (Four advertisements)
Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI (Six advertisements)
 
PERSONAL CARE - Total of One advertisement complained against
Direct Complaints (One advertisement)
 
OTHERS: Total of 18 advertisements complained against
 
Direct Complaints (Eight advertisements)
Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI (10 advertisements)
 
The advertisements listed below were complained against by general public or by industry members. Of the 140 advertisements, 34 cases were informally resolved as the advertisers’ ensured prompt corrective action immediately post receiving the complaints. Complaints against 72 advertisements were upheld by the CCC. Of these 72 advertisements, 58 belonged to healthcare sector and personal-care sector each, and eight to the ‘Others’ category. 
 
Healthcare
 
1. Sahajanand Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd. (JointAid Oil and JointAid Spray): The advertisement’s claim, “Trusted by Doctors, Physiotherapists and Lakhs of families” is misleading by implication that the medical community of doctors and physiotherapists are recommending the product. The second claim, “100% Natural” for JointAid Spray is false and misleading by ambiguity. Additionally, the claim, “Developed by DR” when seen in conjunction with the visual of a stethoscope, was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity and implication, and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
 
2. Lord Dhanvantari Ayurvedic Hospital: The advertisement (in Hindi), claiming cure of knee pain and joint pain by showing similar testimonials and same X-ray reports for two separate individual patients and claiming progress on first day of treatment, and treatment after three and six months. These claims were not substantiated with supporting clinical evidence and are misleading by gross exaggeration and exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge and are likely to lead to grave widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
 
Food & Beverage
 
1. Parle Products Pvt. Ltd (Parle Magix Biscuit): The advertisement (TVC) shows a kid dressed in the police uniform pulling the trigger and firing a bullet (through an audio cue) at the shopkeeper saying in angry tone “Koi bhi cream biscuit Magix ki jagah chipkaoge”. The humorous TVC, though not objectionable, manifests a dangerous practice, exploits the vulnerability of minors and more importantly encourages minors to emulate the modus operandi of any crime. 
 
2. Gujarat Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (Amul Memory Milk-Tropical Fruit): The advertisement’s claims 'Milk with goodness of Ayurveda' and 'Contains various Ayurvedic herbs that are traditionally known to boost memory', were not substantiated as the advertiser did not provide data of any scientific rationale or published literature references to support the claimed benefits. The claims are misleading by exaggeration.
 
Education
 
1.   Catapult Classes: The advertisement’s claims, “CAT 2019 and 2018 Toppers”, and “Maximum 99+ Percentilers in Lucknow are from CaTaPult” with photographs of students and their secured percentile were not substantiated with supporting evidence. The claim (in Hindi), 'IIM jaana hai toh CATaPult aana hai' and 'Sure shot entry into IIMs' (If you want to go to IIM then you must come to CATapult), were not substantiated with supporting evidence of their students who were successfully admitted in IIMs across the country. The claims are misleading by exaggeration and are likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
 
Personal-care
 
1. MARICO LTD - True Roots Botanical Hair Tonic: In the advertisement, celebrity Radhika Apte was featured endorsing the product with claims like ““Stop new grey hair”, “Jo naye safed balon ka aana roke, jad se”, “True roots ke 100 % natural extracts balonke jadonme jakar melanin bhadaye. 90 days tak regularly lagayen taki safed balon ka aana band ho jaye”, “Safed baalon ka jaldi aana jad se rokiye, with TRUEROOTS.”, “No New Greys in 90 days, get rid of premature grey hairs from the root”. These claims were not adequately substantiated.  While the product may cause darkening of grey hair by virtue of Kesh Ranjak ingredients the claims were found to be misleading by ambiguity and implication. The graphic in the advertisement (TVC) and on the pack depicting grey hair turning black was considered to be a misrepresentation of actual product action. The advertisements were in violation of the ASCI Guidelines for Celebrities in advertising and ASCI Guidelines for disclaimers in advertising as the disclaimers in the TVC / YouTube advertisements were not in the same language as that of the voice over (Hindi).         
 
Others
 
1. One97 Communications Ltd. (PayTM): The advertisement claimed, “Win upto Rs 100 crores of Gold. No KYC Needed. Assured Gold Back on First Transfer”. The claim of “No KYC Needed” is misleading by omission and ambiguity. The second claim “UPI money transfers on PAYTM - Win up to rupees 100 crores of Gold” was not substantiated as the advertiser did not provide evidence of the customers who have benefitted by the said offer, nor any details regarding the modality of the offer. The claim is misleading by omission that the offer is subject to terms and conditions and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
 
2. One97 Communications Ltd. (PayTM): The advertisement’s claim on their website “Rupees 50,000 redeemable on purchase of diamond precious jewellery with diamond jewellery voucher worth rupees 50,000” was misleading by omission of additional terms and conditions of cashback offer. The CCC was of the opinion that the said terms and conditions should have been stated upfront in the advertisement.  The website advertisement is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
 
3.  Honda Moturcycle and Scooter India P. Ltd (Honda): The advertisement’s claim (in Tamil) , “0% interest”, was  misleading by omission and failed to mention that the offer was subject to 50% payment on purchase of the vehicle.  The claim is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
 
4.   Vivo Mobile India Pvt. Ltd. (Vivo V11 Pro): The advertisement’s the claim, “Dual Rear Camera with Dual Pixel Technology”, was not substantiated, and misleading by exaggeration. The advertiser did not provide any technical data or test reports for Vivo V11 Pro having feature of dual rear camera with good picture quality. 
 
Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI for Misleading Advertisement
 
The advertisements were picked up through ASCI's suo-motu surveillance of print and TV media via the National Advertisement Monitoring Services (NAMS) project. Out of 103 advertisements, 29 were informally resolved wherein the advertisers promptly confirmed that the advertisement are being withdrawn immediately post receiving the complaints. Of the 103 advertisements, complaints against 73 advertisements were upheld. Of these 73 advertisements, 32 belonged to the Education sector, 25 to Healthcare, 6 to Food and Beverages sector and 10 belonged to the 'Others' category.
 
Education
 
Bhodhayan Coaching, Vidyapeeth Defence & Sports Academy, Reverberation Films (Removes acting studio), The Shri Ram Universal School, Angel's Paradise
Complaints against advertisements of 27 other educational institutes are upheld mainly because of unsubstantiated claims and/or misleading claims that they provide 100% placement/100% placement assistance AND/OR they claim to be the No.1 in their respective fields.
 
The following 14 advertisements were considered to be, prima facie, in violation of The Drugs & Magic Remedies (DMR) Act.
 
Ganga Ayurvedic Clinic, Borvankar Polyclinic, Dhanwantari Ayurveda, Chetak Clinic, Hero Clinic, Dr Ayurveda/Dr Ayurveda Power Prash, Paul Pharmacy /Paras Range of Products, Repl India/Super Sonic capsule, Ganga Grow up Ayurvedic Powder, Elan Impex/ReliefeonVini Pharma/ Vini Diabtonixx Capsule, Yuktamukhi Capsule & Gel, Dr Dixit's Accupuncture, Venkateshwar Homeopathic Clinic.
 
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    COMMENTS

    B. KRISHNAN

    4 months ago

    In the mainstream media, this important event was not reported at all! And the reasons are not far to seek! Once again ML has proved that it is not afraid to bell the cat ! Thanks a lot.

    Consumer Forum Asks Bata to Pay fine for Charging Rs3 for a Paper Bag
    In an unusual victory for the consumer, a District Consumer Forum in Chandigarh has awarded complainant Dinesh Parshad Raturi, Rs3,000 as compensation and Rs1,000 as litigation expenses as Bata India had wrongly charged for a paper carry bag. 
     
    Bata India had pleaded in the case that it charges Rs3 for a paper carry bag for the purpose of environmental safety, to which the Consumer Forum responded “if Bata India is an environmental activist, it should have given the same to the complainant free of cost.” 
     
    To this effect, the forum has also directed the company to provide free carry bags to all customers who purchase its articles.
     
    The forum has directed Bata India to refund Rs3 wrongly charged for the paper carry bag from the Chandigarh resident and also deposit Rs5,000 in the “Consumer Legal Aid Account” in the name of Secretary, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, UT, Chandigarh. 
     
    As per the complaint filed with the forum on 8 February 2019, Mr Raturi alleged that he purchased a pair of shoes from the Bata shop in Sector 22, Chandigarh few days ago. He added that the actual price of a pair of shoes that he purchased was Rs399, but he paid Rs402 and when he checked the bill, found that he was charged Rs3 for the paper bag. As usual, the cashier at the Bata store handed over the pair of shoes and put in a paper bag bearing the advertisement name of the ship ‘BATA’. However, Mr Raturi had no intention of ever purchasing a carry bag.
     
    Mr Raturi stated that it was the duty of the store to provide the carry bag, but he was forced to pay a price for it, which was being in turn used as advertisement by Bata. 
     
    He added that “Bata Surprisingly Stylish”,“Barcelona Milan Singapore New Delhi Rome” was printed on the paper bag. In the case, he alleged that at the cost of the consumer, Bata India was advertising it’s products. 
    However, Bata submitted that for the purpose of environmental safety, the complainant was given a carry bag at the cost of Rs3.
     
    After hearing the arguments, the forum stated that the affidavit furnished by the complainant is that “he never intended to purchase carry bag and it was to be provided by seller, Bata”, and “it was an essential item for sale of product”. 
     
    The forum held that “there is unfair trade practice on the part of Bata India in compelling the complainant to purchase the carry bag worth Rs3 and if Bata India is an environmental activist, it should have given the same to the complainant free of cost” and “it was for gain of the company”. “…By employing unfair trade practice, opposite party [Bata] is minting lot of money from all customers…,” read the forum judgment released on 12 April 2019.
     
    The forum thus directed Bata India to provide free carry bags to all its customers forthwith who purchase articles from its shop.
     
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    COMMENTS

    Abhishek Sarda

    3 months ago

    All commenters here who say that stores should provide bags free of charge SHOULD BE ASHAMED. Instead of thinking about the environment, you are thinking only about your convenience. When you are charged for a bag, paper or plastic, you will generally try to avoid paying that amount by carrying your own bag (cloth/paper/plastic).

    Most countries are banning plastic bags, or are charging money for such bags. The UK has put in a 10p charge for all plastic carry bags since Jan 2019. This has reduced bag consumption by over 80 %!

    And we are headed in the opposite direction. Paper bags are produced from something, that something is usually recycled paper pulp OR in some cases, wood pulp (which means cutting down trees). In any case, isn't a more environment friendly idea to reuse bags?

    A progressive measure, charging for bags (whether plastic or paper; paper costs 10x more than plastic) is being negated by the forum.

    REPLY

    Sucheta Dalal

    In Reply to Abhishek Sarda 3 months ago

    Not at all. Most people have begun to carry their bags. The rule to charge for bags was to discourage use of plastics, it wasn't meant to allow large departmental stores to convert it into a branding and profit opportunity by forcing customers to buy branded bags . Any bag that I pay for in a shop ought to be plain, unbranded and made of recycled or upcycled material (at the least). Why do I need to pay for displaying a corporate brand?

    Abhishek Sarda

    In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 3 months ago

    My entire comment was to raise the issue of the environmental impact of "free" bags. I have not, and will not discuss the advertising/branding aspect. It's a moot point.

    When a shopper gets a bag for free, they don't value the environmental cost it entails. Which is why I mentioned the UK law.

    What the forum had a chance to do; and missed doing so, was to take into consideration the impact on the environment of their diktat to provide "free" bags. The forum's decision might be now used to browbeat the retail sector (or for that matter, much of the economy) to provide bags for free.

    Eventhough we took a far leap forward with the banning of plastic bags, we are now backtracking on our overall commitment to the environment. This should not be the case. /

    K G NAGAR

    4 months ago

    Jute bag be given instead of paper bag at a reasonable price. It is durable and reusable. After some time it will cultivate habit among customers for brining the bag from home as purchase of bag every time will be a burden on pocket. Providing free paper bag is not good for environment also. I suggest that sales proceeds of paper bag be transferred to 'environment protection fund' instead of keeping by vendors.

    B. KRISHNAN

    4 months ago

    The practice of offering carry bags to customers is a western practice. In the good old days we used to carry our own bags to shops. To some extent this practice was also encouraged by plastic manufacturers whose production and revenues spiraled as a result. Even paper bags have an environmental cost. Best thing is to revert to carrying own bags when shopping. This will take some doing.

    B. KRISHNAN

    4 months ago

    The practice of offering carry bags to customers is a western practice. In the good old days we used to carry our own bags to shops. To some extent this practice was also encouraged by plastic manufacturers whose production and revenues spiraled as a result. Even paper bags have an environmental cost. Best thing is to revert to carrying own bags when shopping. This will take some doing.

    RAVINDRA PRABHAKAR JOSHI

    4 months ago

    I had experienced the similar thing in West Side -store, Baner, Pune. I had a lot of argument abut Paper Bag charges they imposed with the cashier. But was later had to stop due to family pressure.
    I do not know whether West Side- a Tata venture - I believe ,still follow the practice of charging for paper bags.
    Hope they take a hint from this article.

    Mudi

    4 months ago

    Even Big Bazaar is making shameful profit out of carry bags! Bata Stores Salesman is NOT asking our permission to sell his paper Bag and debiting my purse!!

    B. KRISHNAN

    4 months ago

    After the recent rulings against plastic bags, it has become the practice for all kinds of shops and establishments (including restaurants) to charge an abnormally high price for paper carry bags which they use to advertise their store/product. I am glad that a consumer had the time and energy to drag a corporate like Bata to court on this issue. Hope other establishments will take note!

    Meenal Mamdani

    4 months ago

    This is a set back for the environment.
    Customer should bring his/her own bag rather than expect one from the retailer. Bags, whether paper or plastic, create garbage. Paper bags are superior as they will degrade over time unlike the plastic ones. However, if you think of the damage done to the environment in the production of the paper bag, namely cutting tress for wood pulp, the chemicals used to manufacture the article, all this harms the environment.
    It is far better to reuse bags that a person already has rather than insist on getting a bag from the store.

    REPLY

    Abhishek Sarda

    In Reply to Meenal Mamdani 3 months ago

    Agreed.

    Harish Khattar

    In Reply to Meenal Mamdani 4 months ago

    Well said.

    K V RAO

    4 months ago

    This is a landmark judgement having serious implications. Today all big companies and malls collect bag cost. Small shops do the same. I complement the litigant for dragging BATA to Consumer Court. Most of us just bear the cost. Somebody took the trouble of filing a case and consumers would be delighted. I think we should carry this feature and show to the management whenever we are charged. Thanks to Moneylife for bringing to our attention.

    REPLY

    Meenal Mamdani

    In Reply to K V RAO 4 months ago

    I think that you are shortsighted.
    So you think that you are protecting consumer rights.
    However at the same time you are encouraging consumers to damage the environment.
    It is better for consumers to use bags over and over again rather than demand a new bag from the store, paper/plastic, with each purchase.

    Krishnamoorthy Nataraj

    In Reply to Meenal Mamdani 4 months ago

    Environment protection is must, no second opinion on that. BATA used that as an excuse to charge someone, they could have handed over plain paper bag instead. If they are super cautious of environment, put a message on the paper bag encouraging other ways or discouraging its use.

    Harish Khattar

    In Reply to K V RAO 4 months ago

    Very well said.

    Summer holiday woes: Air fares set to rise amid Jet crisis
    The 2019 summer holiday travel season is expected to be marred by high air fares as debt-ridden Jet Airways gradually truncates flight operations, experts said.
     
    Even though the airline, lenders and the government are still hopeful of a revival, the current trend might see Jet operating a bare minimum fleet, thus bumping up air fares.
     
    "The grounding of aircraft due to liquidity issues with Jet Airways and regulatory directive for the grounding of B737 Max aircraft have resulted in 15 per cent impact on the industry capacity," said Kinjal Shah, Vice President, Corporate Ratings, ICRA. 
     
    "This has definitely resulted in passenger inconvenience. Furthermore, it has resulted in a significant increase in fares. With the industry capacity remaining constrained, the fares are expected to remain high in the near term." 
     
    Jet's woes assume criticality as the airline which once operated around 120 aircraft is left with just 16 in its fleet. Last Friday it operated 11 aircraft.
     
    The airline has currently suspended international operations till the weekend. It has also cancelled domestic flights, leaving passengers stranded at various airports. This led even the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to assess Jet Airways' financial situation.
     
    "With Jet now cancelling international flights, the rising fare situation is set to get worse if capacity is not increased before peak summer travel season," said Aloke Bajpai, CEO and Co-founder, ixigo. 
     
    "A comparative analysis of April 2019 fares and what the scenario was last year shows that fares for flights originating from Delhi have increased by 19 per cent and fares for flights from Mumbai are up by 36 per cent. Passengers who are planning their summer leisure travel will also be impacted due to availability of seats."
     
    According to Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C), Yatra.com said: "With the peak travel season having kicked off, we expect airlines to induct more aircrafts to tap into the increased demand on the key business and leisure routes."
     
    "This will also result in a rationalisation of air fares and we expect them to increase only marginally as compared to the same season last year." 
     
    In addition, Dhall said: "We see other carriers adding capacity on a daily basis to fill the demand-supply gap and that is keeping fares under control."
     
    "It is only the last-minute fares that are seeing a jump. So it is unlikely to impact the summer vacation travel season as most leisure travellers book well in advance and will not be impacted."
     
    The trend of high air fares that was triggered due to Jet's truncation of its operations was amplified by oil marketing companies, as they increased the price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF).
     
    Since March 14, passengers had to shell out high fares as several more flights were cancelled due to grounding of Boeing 737-MAX aircraft.
     
    Culmination of these factors are expected to decelerate the growth of air passenger traffic in the country.
     
    In a recent note, ratings agency Fitch said that Indian aviation market has seen a sharp increase in air fares in the last few months due to tight supply, which has been worsened by the suspension of the 737 MAX aircraft. 
     
    "Fitch expects the growth in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), which decelerated to 12.4 per cent in January (2018: 19.9 per cent), to weaken further until supply increases," the rating agency said in a note.
     
    In addition, the note said that Jet Airways, which along with its subsidiary JetLite, had the second-largest share of the domestic market until January, has been steadily losing market share as it has been forced to shrink its operating fleet due to financial troubles. 
     
    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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