DECISION by 3033f3

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									            ADVERTISING STANDARDS COMPLAINTS BOARD
                                   PO Box 10-675 Wellington
                                    Telephone (04) 472-7852
                                    Facsimile (04) 471-1785
                                         Email asa@asa.co.nz
                                        Website www.asa.co.nz

                                                                                       06/126

                                     DECISION

                                   Meeting 11 July 2006

Complaint 06/126


                      Complainant: G. Simon
                      Advertisement: Smiths City


Complaint: The radio advertisement said:

“Heat pumps warm in winter, cool in summer, dehumidify, and purify the air. Call your
nearest SMITHS CITY Megastore for a no-obligation quote on your new heatpump!”



The Complainant, G. Simon, said:

“Heard an advert on the radio today, Newstalk ZB in CHC Tuesday 28th Feb that I consider
to be misleading:

1:00pm: Smiths City Market, Heat Pumps/Airconditioners ... “dehumidify and purify the
air...” …advertisers neglect to say that this function only works on warm muggy days and
will not work on cold days when these units are heating the interior of the house.

They are targeting the home heating season not the summer dehumidification season.

I have recently heard an advert for airconditioners/heatpumps by “Smiths City Market”… in
Christchurch stating that they dehumidify the air. This may confuse the public because a
heatpump will only dehumidify in cool mode in the summer. These adverts are placed in the
winter and may suggest to the public that they can dehumidify in the cold weather. A
Householder with streaming wet windows in the cold winter weather, looking for a new form
of heating may buy a Heat Pump on the false impression that it will dehumidify too (In these
weather conditions).

I don't think that the Advertiser has intentionally tried to confuse potential buyers, but the
operating principles of refrigeration and airconditioning are often not well understood.
Advertising for these products should be accurate and written so that the adverts don't
possibly mislead consumers.

I think that the Advertiser should rewrite their advert to state that "A Heat Pump will Cool
and Dehumidify your house in the Summer. A Heat Pump will Heat your house in the
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Winter. They also Filter the air all year round." (Clearly stating which seasons the functions
will work.)

Ref Consumers Magazine 408 October 2001 page 37 para 4 where the Magazine stated that:
“They also filter the air and some can act as a de-humidifier - which could be useful if you
have warm humid weather”.

Also Ref Consumers Magazine 441 October 2004 page 41 in the Paragragh headed
“Dehumidifying: “If you switch a heat pump into cooling mode, it will also dehumidify the
air in your house. In heating mode, heat pumps warm the air but don't dehumidify. Some
units have a special dehumidifying mode, but this is designed for humid tropical climates and
is not suitable for New Zealand winter conditions.”

Most people in the cold South of New Zealand want a dehumidifier for use in winter and a
heat pump will not provide this capability.

Below is some supporting information from a reputable Heat Pump / Air-conditioning
Installer.”

Copies of material referred to above were attached.


The Chairman ruled that the following provision was relevant:

Code of Ethics

Rule 2: Truthful Presentation - Advertisements should not contain any statement or visual
presentation or create an overall impression which directly or by implication, omission,
ambiguity or exaggerated claim is misleading or deceptive, is likely to deceive or mislead the
consumer, makes false and misleading representation, abuses the trust of the consumer or
exploits his/her lack of experience or knowledge. (Obvious hyperbole, identifiable as such, is
not considered to be misleading).



The Advertiser, Smiths City, said:

“Thank you for your letter dated June 6th which requests our comments regarding the
advertising of Air-conditioners and Heat Pumps in the Christchurch area during February and
April of 2006.

I understand the issue raised by G. Simon to be that “a heat pump will only dehumidify in
cool mode in the summer”.
In response to this claim, I offer the argument that the season of the year has nothing to do
with an appliances ability to dehumidify the air. Dehumidification is the result of moisture
forming on a cold surface when warmer moist air comes into contact with that surface. These
conditions can occur on a cold summer’s day or indeed a warm winter’s day, but the most
important issue is that this will only occur when the temperature difference is present.
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I have attached a script of our ad as it has aired, and a brochure from Mitsubishi and
Panasonic, to fully explain the dehumidifying features of these products.

You will note from the script that we start by saying “Heat Pumps warm in Winter, cool in
summer, dehumidify and purify the air” All of these claims are true, and given that the ads
heard by G. Simon ran at the end of summer, not in the depths of winter, they are all relevant
to the time of year as per G. Simon’s claim. The dehumidifying function of an Air-
conditioner is available to be used at any time of the year, and can be selected with both
brands sold by Smiths City. The fact that a heat pump may be used primarily as a heating
device throughout the year, does not preclude the device being used as a dehumidifier. I put it
to you that the advert as it plays in its entirety, fully explains the total functionality of the
product, providing customers with enough information to make a fully informed decision.
The ad also invites potential customers to inquire about a no obligation quote, when the
features and operation of the various products are discussed in more detail.

In response to your second request, Smiths City did not use an advertising agency to script
this advert, it was prepared in house. We rely on our suppliers for the technical data and
product specification. In this case the suppliers are Panasonic New Zealand, and BDT New
Zealand.

I enclose also for your information a copy of the decision relating to complaint 01/248. This
was a complaint brought by G. Simon in November 2001, and deals with the same issues as
his current complaint. Please refer to this document for our comments at the time, comments
from Melco New Zealand (Now BDT) and the boards decision.

Summary.
I Trust this information is sufficient to clarify G. Simon’s issue, and support his comment that
“the advertiser has not intentionally tried to confuse potential buyers”. In fact we consider
that our advertising provides a more complete summary of all the features offered by Air
conditioners and Heat Pumps.”

Copies of material referred to above were attached.


The Radio Network, on behalf of the Media, said:

“The Smith City Ltd radio advertisement was played on our Christchurch Newstalk ZB radio
station.

We have sent a copy of your letter to The Radio Network in Christchurch for them to liaise
with the client.

I will leave it for them to further argue the case.”
Deliberation


The Complaints Board perused the relevant correspondence and listened to the Smiths City
heat pumps radio advertisement. It noted G. Simon’s view that the advertisement was
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misleading as: “A Householder with streaming wet windows in the cold winter weather,
looking for a new form of heating may buy a Heat Pump on the false impression that it will
dehumidify too (In these weather conditions).”

The Chairman directed the Complaints Board to consider the complaint in relation to Rule 2
of the Code of Ethics, or more particularly whether in the Complaints Board’s view the
advertisement contained any statement, or created an overall impression, which directly or
by implication was likely to mislead or deceive the consumer.

Turning to the advertisement, the Complaints Board was of the view that the wording gave
no indication that the heat pumps would perform both a heating and dehumidifying function
simultaneously, but merely advised, in a general manner, that they could “dehumidify, and
purify the air”. The advertisement also said that heat pumps had the ability to “warm in
winter” and “cool in summer”. The Complaints Board noted that material provided by the
Advertiser verified the claim that heat pumps could “dehumidify the air”, humidity resulting
from moist air coming into contact with a cold surface, such as a window, and this could
occur in any season including summer and winter. Furthermore, the generic advertisement
invited potential consumers to call Smiths City for “a no obligation quote on your heat
pump” and the Complaints Board was assured that the finer details of the product
capabilities could be discussed at that time.

In any event, Complaints Board was satisfied that the Advertiser had provided full
substantiation of the statements regarding the product functions as expressed in the
advertisement. As such, the Complaints Board said the claims made were factually based
and not misleading and thereby, the Advertisement was not in breach of Rule 2 of the Code
of Ethics.

The Complaints Board ruled to not uphold the complaint.


Decision: Complaint Not Upheld


      Decision 01/248 – Attached

                                     DECISION

                                   Chairman’s Ruling

                                      5 August 2006

Complaint 06/126

Appeal 06/021


                      Complainant /Applicant: G. Simon
                      Advertisement: Smiths City
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Complaint: The radio advertisement said:

“Heat pumps warm in winter, cool in summer, dehumidify, and purify the air. Call your
nearest SMITHS CITY Megastore for a no-obligation quote on your new heatpump!”


Complainant, G. Simon, said it was misleading in saying Heat Pumps / Air Conditioners
dehumidify and purify the air as this function only works on warm muggy days and will not
work on cold days when these units are heating the interior of the house.


The Chairman ruled that the following provision was relevant:

Code of Ethics

Rule 2: Truthful Presentation - Advertisements should not contain any statement or visual
presentation or create an overall impression which directly or by implication, omission,
ambiguity or exaggerated claim is misleading or deceptive, is likely to deceive or mislead the
consumer, makes false and misleading representation, abuses the trust of the consumer or
exploits his/her lack of experience or knowledge. (Obvious hyperbole, identifiable as such, is
not considered to be misleading).



The Complaints Board ruled on 11 July, to Not Uphold the complaint saying (in part):


“… The Complaints Board was of the view that the wording gave no indication that the heat
pumps would perform both a heating and dehumidifying function simultaneously, but
merely advised, in a general manner, that they could “dehumidify, and purify the air”. The
advertisement also said that heat pumps had the ability to “warm in winter” and “cool in
summer”. The Complaints Board noted that material provided by the Advertiser verified the
claim that heat pumps could “dehumidify the air”, … Furthermore, the generic
advertisement invited potential consumers to call Smiths City for “a no obligation quote on
your heat pump” and the Complaints Board was assured that the finer details of the product
capabilities could be discussed at that time.

In any event, the Complaints Board was satisfied that the Advertiser had provided full
substantiation of the statements regarding the product functions as expressed in the
advertisement. As such, the Complaints Board said the claims made were factually based
and not misleading and thereby, the Advertisement was not in breach of Rule 2 of the Code
of Ethics.”



The Application for Appeal said:
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“I was disappointed in your Decision: Complaint Not Upheld.

1,) Referring to the 2001 complaint 01/248 (Deliberation para four) the board placed a lot of
weight on the partial quote of half a sentence from the October 2001 issue of consumers
magazine...

...01/248 The Advertiser said: pg 4 para 3 (item 2):
"Further more, as a completely independent evidence of the ability of airconditioners /
heatpumps to dehumidify I refer to the October issue of consumer magazine, which included
an article headed "Warmer in Winter...". Cooler in Summer". Discussing principally the
heating function, para 4 states:

"They also filter the air and some can act as a dehumidifier".

I say:
You will note from my last complaint 06/126 pg 2 para 2 that I quoted this sentence in its
entirety:

"They also filter the air and some can act as a de-humidifier - which could be useful if you
have warm humid weather".

Which has been my point all along!

 Was this deletion of the second half of the sentence, the qualifier, evidence that the
advertiser was being deliberately deceptive?


2,) I read in your Deliberation for 06/126 in para three that "The Complaints board noted that
heat pumps could dehumidify the air, humidity resulting from moist air coming into contact
with a cold surface, such as a window and this could occur in any season including summer
and winter."

That's not humidity, its condensation:
Humidity does not result from moist air coming into contact with a cold surface but is a
property of the air itself and its moisture content, the warmer the air it has a greater capacity
to hold more water vapour also known as "Relative Humidity". The water on the cold
windows is a result of the air in contact with the windows cooling down, and the water
vapour in the air condensing on the glass and aluminium frame, because the dew point
(>100% relative Humidity) was reached at the glass temperature.

The same thing would happen in the airconditioner / heat pump interior unit in cool mode (or
dry mode) as the cold evaporator coils are extracting heat from the interior of the house. If
the evaporator coils are colder than the interior air in the house, the dew point will be
reached by cooling down the air in contact with the evaporator coils, and water or even ice
will form on these coils. As a result you will not get any heat off these coils as they are
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cold. So if you are using this airconditioner / heat-pump to dehumidify the air in your house
in any season it cannot be doing any heating at the same time.

Dry mode appears to cycle between hot and cold cycles, therefore reputable airconditioning
suppliers say this only is effective down to an outside air temperature of 16 degrees C. and no
lower, otherwise the airconditioner heat pump will have to work too hard to cool the house to
dehumidify, then reverse and heat the house back up again to make up for the loss of heat
caused by the heat pump dehumidifying the inside air of the house.


What appears to be Dehumidification:
Heating and blowing warm air around the interior of the house will remove water off the
windows too, but not from dehumidification but from raising the temperature of the glass
above the dew point of the air. The air will have exactly the same water content (or more as it
has absorbed the window water.) but its relative humidity is dropping in percentage as the air
gets warmer. This is not dehumidification. As soon as you turn the heating off, the
temperature of the windows will drop below the dew point of the moisture laden air, the air
cools down and its relative humidity rises as a percentage and the moisture will condense on
any cold surface at a temperature below the dew point (100 % relative humidity at that
temperature).


3,) 06-126 Deliberation pg 4
"Furthermore, the generic advertisement invited potential consumers to call Smiths City for 'a
no obligation quote on your heat pump' and the Complaints Board was assured that the finer
details of the product capabilities could be discussed at that time."

As Smiths City are adamant that a heat pump will heat and dehumidify at the same time
I am concerned as to the training that they will give their staff for the "finer details".


4,) Note 06/126 pg2 para 12
The Advertiser, Smiths City, said:
"I understand the issue raised by G.Simon to be that a heat pump will only dehumidify in
cool mode in the summer".
"In response to this claim, I offer the argument that the season of the year has nothing to do
with an appliance's ability to dehumidify the air. "Dehumidification is the result of moisture
forming on a cold surface when warmer moist air comes into contact with that surface.
"These conditions can occur on a cold Summer's day or indeed a warm winters day, but the
most important issue is that this will only occur when the temperature difference is present."

I say:
Okay, I only used the words Summer and Winter to give the Board a concept of when the
heat pump will be required to be in which mode, Cool or Heat. The advertiser used the words
Winter and Summer too.
The words in the Advert: "Heat pumps warm in Winter, cool in Summer, dehumidify,
and purify the air..".gives the impression that this is what you do in those seasons. Would
you think it appropriate to cool in Winter? The advertiser says you can so that you can
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dehumidify, which is true, but why would you cool your house in the Winter? Is that what
you want your heat pump to do? ..."When warmer moist air comes in contact with that (cold)
surface". (the heatpump evaporator coils) can occur in Summer or Winter if you select the
heatpump control to cool (or dry) which is what I have been saying since 2001! But would
you further chill your house on a cold day? Of course not!


5,) Note 06/126 pg3 para 2
The Advertiser, Smiths City, said:
"The fact that a heat pump is used primarily as a heating device throughout the year, does not
preclude the device being used as a dehumidifier."
I say:
True, you could use it like a dehumidifier by switching it into cool mode, but you would have
to be unwise to do that in cold weather.
On a cold day or night, if the heat pump was the only form of heating in the room or in the
house, why would you run it to further cool the house? You would freeze!

A modern car with fogged up windows on a cold day can use its airconditioning to
dehumidify the air inside the car to speedily defrost the windows. Car airconditioning is
ALWAYS in cool mode. But on a cold day, a car counteracts this cooling effect with the vast
quantities of heat that the engine cooling system tries to get rid of, this waste heat in the
coolant water can be piped into the heater matrix to heat the air inside the car back up to
comfortable levels.
A house owner will not want an expensive airconditioning unit to dehumidify while
something else is used to heat the room back to comfortable temperatures. The house owner
would need another second heatpump to counteract the cooling effect of the first that is
busy dehumidifying in cool mode, and then a third heat pump to provide the heating.
Sounds like an expensive way to do a simple job that a dedicated stand alone dehumidifier
will do much less expensively and they do not extract heat from the interior of the house.


6,) Note: the Harvey Norman mailer advert 46571_V3 arrived on 1st August pg 14v1 which
(responsibly) says:

"Dehumidify your home: If you switch your heat pump into cooling mode, it will also
dehumidify the air in your house."


Chairman’s Ruling


The Chairman noted the issues raised in appeal. However, in his view the advertisement did
not make any reference to when the dehumidifier would be used, but simply said that: “Heat
pumps warm in winter, cool in summer, dehumidify, and purify the air.” As such, the
advertisement could not be said to be attempting to confuse or mislead the consumer.
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He then turned to the grounds for Appeal as stated in the Second Schedule of the
Constitution, 6 (a) which said: (in part)
“…The Complaints Board Chairman shall decide whether to place the matter before the
Appeal Board upon any of the following grounds:
(i) The proper procedures have not been followed.
(ii) There is new evidence of sufficient substance to affect the decision.
(iii) Evidence provided to the Complaints Board has been misinterpreted to the extent that it
has affected the decision.
(iv) The decision is against the weight of evidence.
(v) It is in the interests of natural justice that the matter be reheard.”

Addressing each of the grounds, the Chairman said that the proper procedures had been
followed, and the application did not provide new evidence of sufficient substance to affect
the decision but simply discussed issues which were not mentioned in the advertisement. In
relation to this, the Chairman reiterated the Complaints Board’s position that it was not an
arbiter of scientific fact, but confined its role to the consideration of whether the content of
an advertisement or advertisements met the requirements of the Advertising Codes. The
Chairman said the evidence provided had not been misinterpreted by the Complaints Board,
the decision was not against the weight of evidence, and it was not in the interests of natural
justice that the matter be reheard. Accordingly, in his view the Complaints Board’s
deliberation was fair and just, and there were no grounds on which an appeal could proceed.

The Chairman ruled that the application for appeal be declined.


Chairman’s Ruling: Application for Appeal Declined

								
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