ASA Adjudication on Powerhouse Direct Ltd
Powerhouse Direct Ltd
30 Western Road
17 October 2012
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both were Upheld.
A job listing, appearing on a recruitment agency website, was headed "URGENT: Marketing Assistant/Events Assistant. Southampton, Hampshire. £15,000 - £20,000 per annum, negotiable, OTE. Job Type: Permanent, full-time ..." .
Further down the listing, it provided more details about the position and text stated "At Powerhouse Direct in Southampton we're currently working with a client that wants our help with the promotional sales and marketing of their cosmetics brand. We're looking for people with exceptional customer service skills that enjoy working with customers and have an interest in fashion, cosmetics/health & beauty, etc. ... Here at Powerhouse Direct we specialise in direct sales using B2B, B2C and event marketing strategies to create brand awareness and increase market share for all of our clients. We travel throughout the Hampshire/South Coast area to get them as much exposure as possible ...".
Under the heading "REQUIREMENTS/RECOMMENDATIONS", text stated "...You'll need to commute to our office in Southampton daily to pick up and return merchandise ...". At the bottom of the listing, under the heading "CONSIDERATION", text stated "Successful applicants will hear back from Hollie within 1 - 5 business days. Before reaching a final decision, we may invite you to spend a half day at one of our events observing someone in action. This is an observational day, which means you won't be actively participating in the sales, and therefore, won't receive any pay. It's simply an opportunity for you to see what's involved to help determine if it's the right fit for you".
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because it did not make clear:
1. the vacancy was for a door-to-door sales position; and
2. that earnings were based on commission only.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Powerhouse Direct Ltd did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Powerhouse Direct Ltd's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of the CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
1. & 2. Upheld
The ad stated that successful applicants would be required to commute to Southampton to collect and return merchandise. We understood from the complainant's experience of applying for the position was that it was, in fact, for a door-to-door sales position. Without evidence to the contrary, we concluded the advertised vacancy was for a door-to-door sales position; we noted that information was not included in the ad. We considered consumers were unlikely to interpret the ad as one for a door-to-door sales position, information which we considered was likely to affect an individual's decision to apply. Consequently, we considered that information should have been included in the ad and because it was not, we concluded it was misleading on that point.
We considered the claims "URGENT: Marketing Assistant/Events Assistant. Southampton, Hampshire. £15,000 - £20,000 per annum, negotiable, OTE. Job Type: Permanent, full-time" implied that the advertised vacancy was a permanent position where the successful applicant was a salaried employee, earning a basic salary of at least £15,000. We had not seen evidence that was the case and we therefore concluded the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.7 (Unreasonable delay), 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 20.2 (Employment, Homework schemes and business opportunities).
The ad must no longer appear. We told Powerhouse Direct not to advertise a position as salaried and permanent, when that was not the case and not to misrepresent advertised positions.