DECISION by forrests

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									02/273 DECISION Chairman’s Ruling 17 September 2002 Complaint 02/273

Complainant: M. Hollings Advertisement: MARK VETTE'S Clevedon Boarding Kennels, Cattery and Behaviour Clinic

Complaint: The advertisement on the back of Mark Vette's business card said, "Boarding kennels and cattery holidays for your pets." The Complainant said: "…The situation was that I required boarding accommodation for my two cats and as this was at very short notice … I was unable to inspect the premises, as is my usual practice. I requested accommodation that my two cats could share, but not communal housing, as I didn‟t want them mixing with strange cats whose health status was unknown. What they actually got was nothing more than a boarded up box, with five sides being solid, and some open mesh at the top of the door. There was no view or outside stimulus, and little to stimulate them within the box, and no fresh air circulating, but stale air smelling of urine. I really wonder how this accommodation can be described as being a “holiday for your pets” as stated on the reverse of Mr Vette‟s business card (attached). Had I been able to examine the premises, I would have found the accommodation to be less than adequate, and I certainly would not have booked a stay for my cats. …" The relevant provision was the Code of Ethics, Rule 2. The Chairman perused the Complainant's correspondence and advised that the only part of the material discussed which constituted an "advertisement" was the phrase "Boarding kennels and cattery holidays for your pets." which was printed on the back of the business card. He noted the Complainant's concern but was of the view that the use of the word "holiday" in this context did not hold out any promise as to the level or quality of the accommodation involved. He also commented that appropriate agencies, such as the Boarding Kennels and Catteries Association, would be better able to assess and comment on the accommodation offered. Accordingly the Chairman ruled the complaint be not accepted. Chairman’s Ruling: Complaint Not Accepted

02/273 Appeal 02/31 DECISION Chairperson’s Ruling 8 January 2003 Complaint 02/273 Appeal 02/31

Complainant / Appellant: M. Hollings Advertisement: MARK VETTE'S Clevedon Boarding Kennels, Cattery and Behaviour Clinic

Complaint: The advertisement on the back of Mark Vette's business card said, "Boarding kennels and cattery holidays for your pets."

The Complainant, as recorded in Decision 02/273, said Mark Vette's animal accommodation was less than adequate and to call it a "holiday for your pets" was misleading.

The relevant provision was the Code of Ethics, Rule 2.

The Chairman, on 17 September 2002, had ruled that the complaint be not accepted as the word "holiday" did not hold out any promise as to the level of accommodation. He also commented that appropriate agencies, such as the Boarding Kennels and Catteries Association, would be better able to assess and comment on the accommodation offered.

The Appellant said in correspondence of 14 November 2002: " This letter is an appeal against what appears to be an incorrect decision from the Chairman. I believe the Chairman’s statement that „the use of the word “holiday” in this context did not hold out any promises as to the level or quality of the accommodation involved‟ is incorrect for the following reasons: 1. the Chairman seems not to be familiar with the Authority‟s objectives that appears in the Advertising Codes of Practice 2002 edition, whose first objective, on page 9, states “... and to ensure that advertising is not misleading or deceptive either by statement or implication”, because it was deceptive and misleading, since a place that is squalid and

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02/273 Appeal 02/31 where there is a higher-than-should-be-expected disease risk, is not the normal meaning of the word holiday in this country‟s understanding of the word; 2. the Chairman has applied Rule 2 which includes “Identification” which clearly contradicts the first point in the Interpretation on page 11 (it seems the goal-posts have been moved to give the organisation the power of a eunuch except for blatant advertising violations), and “Truthful Presentation” which in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has as its meaning of “truthful” „a statement full of truth; free of deceitfulness, accurate, true to life, realistic, faithful and if something is true it is honest. Truthful wording would say “a different (or change of) environment”. 3. By stating his University degree qualifications, Mr Vette seriously implies he has knowledge superior to Joe Public and therefore implies he knows how to look after animals and knows how to provide an acceptable standard of care (see first main objective). It is not unreasonable to expect that a holiday for pets would include a minimum standard of care. Indeed as a member of the Boarding Kennels and Catteries Association, there is a requirement for minimum standards to be met (it further came to light that Mr Vette is a founding member of this organisation which was set up because there were no minimum standards in this country!); 4. the Chairman seems also to have ignored the Advertising Codes of Practiced 2002 edition‟s Interpretation on page 11 which states: "the word “advertisement” is to be taken in its broadest sense to embrace any form of advertising and includes advertising which promotes the interest of any person...”. Since Mr Vette acknowledges his profile is now high with the television appearance, his interest is clearly promoted. Also nowhere in the code is there permission, even implied permission, for the Chairman to interpret the code m a manner less than what the code states. Therefore, “advertisement in the broadest sense cannot otherwise but include both overt and covert promotion, and therefore my original complaint fulfils both parts of the first interpretation of the word advertisement. Since the Chairman obviously changes from time to time, is one not correct in believing the code is established to obviate the whims, foibles, and failings of the human nature of the individual? By the way, to be sure of the meaning of the word “advertisement”, I checked in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary which has as its meanings “information, notification, a statement calling attention to something”, and the word “broad” has the relevant meaning of “widely applicable, far-ranging; inclusive; general”, and these meanings clearly reflect the meaning of the entire first objective and also the interpretation of the word advertisement as stated in the code. I have also included a copy of the reply from the Boarding Kennels and Catteries Association, that confirms I had good grounds for a complaint - the last sentence is an appalling indictment of the facility. I am still awaiting a reply from the SPCA, which is also very interested. Overall, I must say how disappointed I have been to learn what a eunuch of an organisation the Advertising Standards Complaints Board appears to be! I hope it will do better in the future, when other real people‟s real issues confront it."

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02/273 Appeal 02/31 Deliberation The Chairperson perused all relevant correspondence and the Chairman's Ruling of 17 September 2002. In assessing this complaint the Chairperson considered the four points raised by the appellant. 1. Deceptive and Misleading The Chairperson concurred with the Chairman of the Advertising Standards Complaints Board that there is nothing in the advertisement that indicates a level or quality of accommodation sufficient to be a breach of any of the codes of advertising practice. The advertiser does not, for example, state “five star” or “the best” or even “superior” accommodation. Further, the word “holiday” according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary is “an extended period of recreation, esp. away from home or in travelling; a break from work.” Objectively, there can be no “quality‟ aspect read into this word. 2. Truthfulness The Chairperson considered that the arguments raised under this heading were predominantly covered in point 1. above. Taken objectively “holiday in a cattery” could be taken as a truthful representation of “a break from [usual activity] especially away from home”. 3. Qualifications Mr Vette‟s qualifications are a matter of factual record - no more, no less. As the appellant points out further, being a member of the Boarding Kennels and Catteries Association in itself requires a certain standard of quality accommodation to be met. The Chairperson notes the involvement of the Association in this matter and considers that it has acted appropriately in furtherance of its self regulatory role as far as enforcement of standards in its industry are concerned. 4. Breadth of Advertisement The Chairperson (like the Chairman of the Complaints Board) has accepted the card is an advertisement and hence both bodies have jurisdiction on matters that might properly be determined to be an advertisement. The Chairperson noted that many complaints received by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board were in fact based on a complainant‟s dislike of, or downright objection to, a particular product or service being advertised or because of some dissatisfaction with the product or service. It has long been the practice within the Advertising Standards Complaints

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02/273 Appeal 02/31 system that such complaints could not come within the jurisdiction of the Board merely on those objections alone.

Conclusion The Chairperson, in conformity with this consistent approach, therefore agrees with the Chairman of the Complaints Board that there is nothing in the advertisement that could be considered a breach of the Advertising Codes of Practice and notes further that the Chairman‟s suggestion of involving the Boarding Kennels and Catteries Association to assess the accommodation offered was in fact the appropriate avenue to have the appellant‟s concerns addressed. Chairperson’s Ruling: Appeal Dismissed


								
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