Scottish Power ad banned over misleading claims

A SCOTTISH Power ad for a remote control heating system has been banned for claiming it could save customers up to 20 per cent off their gas bills.

The advert was ruled to be 'misleading'. Picture: PA

The ad on the Big Six provider’s website claimed a trial of the Connect Remote Heating Control in 70 homes found they were using their heating 20 per cent less of the time compared with others.

Defending a complaint that the claim was misleading, Scottish Power Energy Retail said a survey by a third party found 60 per cent of the trial participants who engaged remotely with the product more than once a week had their boilers on for an average of 21 per cent less time than those who used it less than once a week.

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It said it had amended the headline claim to make it clear that the data showed that a user could reduce their gas heating usage by up to 20 per cent by using the product, and that the claim was based on a sample of 70 homes.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said consumers would understand that if they bought and used the product, which allows them to adjust their heating and hot water remotely, they could save up to 20 per cent off their gas heating bills.

The ASA said those who located the small print were likely to believe that all 70 individuals in the trial used the product more than once a week, and their usage had dropped by 20 per cent in comparison to “others”.

It said its own review of the trial data was “problematic” because it found the survey did not adequately control for other factors that could influence energy usage, such as the number of people living in a home or the size, age and design of the house.

The ASA said: “We were concerned that, in the absence of any information regarding the participants’ energy usage prior to having the product installed, the trial did not prove that the participants’ usage had been influenced by their use of the product and differed from their usual consumption.

“Therefore, we considered that the trial did not demonstrate that there was a causal relationship between a customer’s engagement with the product and their energy usage.

“For those reasons, we considered that the evidence provided was not sufficient to substantiate the claim that the product could result in a reduction in energy usage or a corresponding reduction in a user’s gas bill, and concluded that the claim was misleading.”

It ruled the ad must not appear again in its current form and told Scottish Power “to ensure they held sufficient evidence” to substantiate any claims.