Friday 5 August 2011

We complained: will you?

Our last complaint to the ASA was dismissed, though if you search for ASA and road tax, the organisations habit of dismissing such complaints is starting to make the organisation itself look as independent as News International's internal hacking investigations.

We were shown another advertisement, this time in Sport Magazine; a Fiat advert, "Avoid Road Tax without being arrested". Another complaint. This time, we'd like everyone else to complain too. We know that single complaints do get ignored. What is unknown is how many people does it take to complain before the ASA recognise that this is a problem that won't go away, pass the news up to the advertisers, and have them change their prose.

Here is the text of the complaint

The article says "Avoid Road Tax without being arrested". As road tax was abolished in the 1930s, it is clearly confusing Vehicle Excise Duty -a car tax- with some hypothetical and hypothecated fee that gives motor vehicles the right to use roads, and which does not confer rights onto any other users, such as cyclists. 
Furthermore, if it did mistakenly refer to VED, that's not an arrestable offence.
This article is repeating in its headline a myth: that paying for VED gives motor vehicle owners exclusive rights to the road.
You will no doubt reply with some dismissive stock "we don't expect the readers to be that stupid" reply, but be aware of two details
  1. Some of the readers are that stupid, and are now appearing on video assaulting cyclists for being on the road without paying road tax.
  2. Every time the ASA dismisses these complaints, it makes the ASA look weaker -it makes you look as effective as a voluntary regulatory body as the press complains commission. 
Please recognise that road tax does not exist, that such advertisements repeat myths that do have dangerous consequences in this country, and that your inability or unwillingness to address this issue is detrimental to your own organisation.

Remember -if you don't complain, things won't change.