The ASA recently upheld two complaints about a property letting website that published “070” telephone numbers for applicants to use to enquire about properties available to rent. These telephone numbers allow callers to be diverted to mobile phones or landlines and are more expensive for the caller than conventional landline numbers. Anyone ringing up the agent to find out about a property would find himself or herself incurring substantially higher charges that they may have expected.

The ASA concluded that the advertisement was misleading because people might have thought that a “0700” number was a normal mobile phone and would not have realised the additional cost involved. The website should have contained pricing information about the call charges. We very much doubt that any of our landlord insurance clients use these numbers but perhaps you know of someone who does or a tenant who has fallen foul of them?

A second complaint about this website was that the complainant doubted that some of the properties it advertised were genuine. The complainant said that when she telephoned the number on the website she was kept on the line for over half an hour and the people she spoke to would not disclose the name of the letting agent. She therefore incurred a substantial telephone bill and was not provided with any information to suggest that the advertised property actually existed. The ASA also upheld this complaint because they too had not been provided with any evidence that the properties were genuine.

For further details visit www.asa.org.uk If you are involved in producing websites or other advertising material it is a good idea to check up on the consumer protection rules that apply and the ASA website is a good place to start.

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