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ASCI calls out BYJU’s Learning, Airtel, Tata Docomo, & others for false advertising

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The Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) has upheld complaints (pdf) against 134 advertisements out of 183 ads brought to it during July 2016. These advertisements belonged to various categories: 44 belonged to the Education category, 44 in the Healthcare & Personal Care category, 24 in the Food & Beverages category, 8 in Personal Care Category and 14 more advertisements in unclassified categories.

In Education/Ecommerce

Online education platform BYJU’s Learning’s claim in its advertisement “IMS Cat Coaching-Learn tips & tricks from Toppers” was found to be misleading as the the advertiser was apparently misusing the name of IMS, according to ASCI. Note that BYJU’s had raised $50 million from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative last month.

Another ad by BYJU’s which claimed “India’s #1 Institute for civil service preparation”, and the claim “5 Rank in top 50”, “14 Ranks in top 100” and “162 Ranks in the final list” was found to be misleading by ASCI. These claims were not substantiated by with “comparative data” from other similar institutes, and there were no substantial proof behind the rankings claim, added ASCI.

Online Insurance aggregator Policy Bazaar’s advertisement which portrayed that consumers can choose to renew an expired insurance policy at any time was found to be misleading by ASCI as the ad was misleading consumers to believe that they need not take care of lapsed insurance policies.

“The advertisement is also encouraging negligence as well as trivializing violation of law. Contrary to the advertiser’s explanation that the TVC is not guaranteeing instant online insurance with immediate effect, the TVC is misleading by implication that a consumer would be saved from police trouble with the online policy option,” added ASCI.

In Telecom

Bharti Airtel’s claims in the advertisement “Kyunki sahi ghalat saamne aane se hi banta hai sabse best network” (Translation: “because correct/incorrect revelations only make the best network”) was found to be misleading by ASCI since the claim of providing “best network” is determined only after examining network parameters associated with performance. And these parameters then need to be compared with over service providers.

“Transparency” of communication providing input for improvement does not necessarily make any network the best, added ASCI.

Update: Airtel has responded to ASCI’s false advertising report.

“Airtel is the first operator to have made public its entire network information in a transparent fashion and we strongly believe that only when we open ourselves to customer scrutiny will we become the best. We do not agree with the observation made by ASCI and have shared all details with them,” a spokesperson from Airtel told MediaNama.

Tata Docomo’s advertisement that claimed to provide voice calls at “Rs 68-Local/STD Mobile calls at 30p/min” was not substantiated by any proof and was found to be misleading by ASCI. Docomo did not mention the conditions under which this offer is applicable or an exclusion criteria for which the offer is available, added ASCI.

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