The ASA may seem like a big bully but there are certain things that you can do to have confidence about the quality of your website with regards to any claims that you are making.
1. Your professional association might be able to give you advice about what you can say or not say. However, our experience is that some do not want to get involved and others simply submit to the ASA’s requirements and tell you to follow their instructions. This is not necessarily in your best interests for all the reasons you can find on this site.
2. You will know, or can research, yourself what documentation there is to support your statements.
3. Another option is to go to the GRCCT – General Regulatory Council for Complementary Therapies who offer an advertising certification service. This service assesses any claims you make on your website or promotional materials and once you have passed their adjudication you will receive a certificate and stamp you can add to your website. If they feel that your claims are not correct then they will let you know why and you can amend as needed.
This GRCCT service differs significantly to what the ASA does. GRCCT have a panel of experts, including one from your own particular field as well as a legal expert, who will assess the claims you make. On the other hand, the ASA do not use any experts from the natural health field – so how can they possibly make an adjudication? GRCCT will also provide a legal expert to testify in court should a complaint against you ever reach that far, at no further cost than that of the initial assessment.*
Whilst this may not stop the ASA from taking up a complaint against you it is already very useful to have such certification. The ASA cannot take you to court because they are just a private company, but they may refer you to Trading Standards. Such a certification shows you are supported by a credible body of evidence and Trading Stardards must take this into consideration where the ASA refuse to.
Of course, this may not stop the ASA from pulling other tricks on you, such as taking out Google ads. We consider this “Unfair Trade” which is a criminal offense. Using unfair means to destroy a business is criminal and it needs to be dealt with as such. Google has no right accepting these ads either.
You can always ignore them too – they have no power to take legal action.
Depending on your situation, there are always things you can do. So don’t be one of those to get trampled on – take some action against the ASA and at a certain point when enough people do it they will get the idea and we’ll get a fair and just system implemented throughout the UK.
*Contact GRCCT for costs which are quite reasonable, particularly if you are a member of the association