& Smith Ceases Running Controversial Ads Involving Long-Crack
June 19, 2009
Smith & Smith, a Belron company based in New Zealand, has ceased
running controversial advertising that a competitor said led consumers
to believe that no cracks could be repaired. The Advertising Standards
Authority's (ASA) Complaints Board recently ruled in favor of D.
Hore of Crack Specialists Ltd., who claimed the ads were misleading.
The Smith & Smith ads warned consumers to have their windshields
repaired prior to chips becoming cracks, to avoid having to replace
the entire windshield. Hore argued that the ads were misleading
to consumers, as New Zealand auto glass standards allow cracks up
to 350 mm (approximately 14 inches) to be repaired, as long as they're
outside the driver's critical viewing area.
"The advertisement claims that if a windscreen chip turns into
a crack that it cannot be repaired and the windscreen has to be
replaced," says Hore in his initial complaint. "This is
incorrect and under the Windscreen Standard AS/NZS 2366.2 1999,
we are, in fact, allowed to repair cracks to up to 350 mm outside
the critical vision area. This is very misleading and customers
believe the only option they have it so replace the whole windscreen."
Smith & Smith argued that though the company does repair windshields,
it does not repair any cracks or chips larger than a 50-cent coin.
"We are not alone in taking a more conservative approach than
that allowed under the Standard," writes Smith & Smith
in their response. "One of our principal competitors in the
vehicle glass repair segment, Novus, promotes its windscreen repair
service by saying that 'if the damaged area on your windscreen can
be covered over by a credit card, the chances are very good that
it can be repaired.'"
Smith & Smith goes on to note that the longest side of a credit
card is 85 mm (approximately 3 inches), "which is well short
of the Standard's 350-mm maximum, where the crack is outside the
critical vision area."
The Complaints Board ruled that the ads violated the Truthful Presentation
Rule of the Advertising Code of Ethics, which states, "Advertisements
should not contain any statement or visual presentation or create
an overall impression which directly or by implication, omission,
ambiguity or exaggerated claim is misleading or deceptive, is likely
to deceive or mislead the consumer, makes false and misleading representation,
abuses the trust of the consumer or exploits his/her lack of experience
Though Hore also argued that the ads were misleading in that they
note that "repairs are free under insurance when they do the
repair," and claimed that this made it sound as if only repairs
completed by Smith & Smith were covered by insurance, the Complaints
Board ruled that the meaning of this statement was clear and not
"The Complaints Board was of the view that consumers would
understand this to mean that, if they were insured, they would not
be required to 'open their wallets' again for payment to Smith &
Smith for the repair," writes the Board in their final decision.
Jeff Boekstein, group sales and marketing director for Belron, says
the company has ceased running the ads, but is disappointed in the
"We are naturally disappointed in the ASA's decision but, in
any event, we have stopped running the advertising at issue and
have developed new advertising which we have run more recently,"
he told glassBYTEs.com/AGRR magazine.
Boekstein notes, however, that the goal of the ads was to increase
the company's repair ratio, and this focus will continue.
"The prime objective of our revised advertising, as well as
the advertising which was the subject of the complaint, was and
is to increase our repair ratio," he says. "Our continued
focus on chip repair both in New Zealand and elsewhere has resulted
in significant growth in the repair rate over time, thereby generating
financial savings for our customers and insurance partners."
HERE for the full text of the ASA's decision.
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