Advertising

Agency Agreements

Some businesses have chosen to use the facilities offered by advertising agencies as a means to get to the market. Having asked them to design and place the advertisement they are under the mistaken belief that their responsibilities and liabilities have been passed to the agency. Unless certain precautions have been taken this is not the case.
All that has happened is that the agency have become jointly and severally liable with yourself

How can you protect yourself?

If an error is compiled by the agency on one of your advertisements then the offence has occurred and you are already liable. If the error leading to the offence is not yours then if you have taken the following actions you will be in a position to seek to establish a statutory defence and avoid a prosecution.

You should immediately write to the advertising agency (you may choose to use the pro-forma in the Quality System Manual as a model) instructing them to comply with all the relevant provisions of the Advertising Regulations and to indemnify you in the event of any failure to the extent of any losses consequential to any breach. You must also include details of the relevant provisions of the regulations referred to above. Lawgistics are happy to supply a copy for this use.
Web Sites

Web sites are a relatively new innovation but one that more and more dealerships are using. Previously vehicles were viewed by potential customers primarily within a local area. Vulnerability was local and usually dealt with by the local Trading Standards Office building and drawing upon a relationship built up over time.

Now that you are on the web you are reaching customers worldwide but particularly nationwide and your advertisements and webs are being viewed by Trading Standards Offices all over the country. If they are wrong and an offence occurs then it occurs both where it was published (on your computer) and where it is read (anywhere in the country). ANY Trading Standards Officer can then institute proceedings without reference to the “Home Authority”.

Within the web there are two danger areas which need addressing:
1. The basic web design and development
2. Information that changes on a periodic basis.
1. Design of web site

The designing of a web site is invariably given to an IT expert and by definition they are not always aware of the legalities of the descriptions they apply.
In broad principal the rules that apply to the advertising, display, sale and credit facilities apply equally to the web site and all its various windows. The principles outlined earlier should be applied.

IT specialists should be instructed to obtain approval and written authorisation from the Director/Proprietor prior to going live. Any further amendments should follow a similar course.

2. Control of Information

As with all information relating to specific vehicles which may change on a regular basis there must be some system to ensure that the information and the descriptions applied are accurate. For all information relating to vehicles the following procedure should be adopted.

a) A list of the relevant vehicles and their description should be compiled by the Sales Manager.
b) It is the Sales Manager’s responsibility to ensure that each vehicles details and descriptions are checked and are accurate. This should be done by comparing the list to both the information held on file and the vehicle itself.
c) Once the list has been verified by the Manager it may be transferred to an IT operative for transcription onto the web site.
d) Once that transcription has taken place and the Manager notified accordingly then he shall cause a further check to be made to ensure that transcription is accurate and the list endorsed accordingly.

Media Advertising

No advertisement or editorial shall be placed by any person within the company unless specifically authorised to do so by the Directors, Partners, Proprietor or their delegate.
All advertising shall be approved by the company and shall comply with the company’s “Advertising and Promotional Guidelines”.
 
It is the Manager’s responsibility to ensure that all advertisements are checked prior to publication to ensure compliance and signed off by the Manager or his delegate.
It is the Manager’s responsibility to ensure that all staff are aware of the content of any advertisement and in particular the content and extent of the offer together with its period of availability.
A copy of all advertisements shall be kept on file at the dealership. Following the introduction of an advertisement the Manager will immediately check on site documentation to ensure any price reductions, special offers or promotions, free gifts
or other offers are available and have been put into effect.
On conclusion of that promotion or offer the Manager is responsible for the removal of the said promotional literature, special offers, price indications, brochures and other details.
Where there is any doubt over the legality of any advertisements it shall be referred to Lawgistics.

On Site Advertising and Promotions

No advertisement or promotional material shall be placed in or throughout the dealership unless specifically authorised by the Directors, Partners, Proprietor or their delegate.
All promotions or advertising material shall be approved by the company before its use and shall comply with the company’s Advertising and Promotional Guidelines.
It is the Manager’s responsibility to ensure that all competitions or fliers comply with the “Advertising and Promotional Guidelines”.
It is the Manager’s responsibility to ensure that at no time is any unauthorised advertisement, offer, or promotion on display.

Point of Sale Material

It is the Manager’s responsibility to ensure that all point of sale material is accurate and accurately describes the vehicle or goods to which it relates. In particular any vehicle description shall be checked against the vehicle to which it relates and no mileage is indicated unless there is clear evidence that it is correct.
No financial information shall be affixed to any vehicle unless it complies with the company’s “Advertising and Promotional Guidelines”.