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Solar News 10 May 2011. Another UK solar company breaches ASA advertising standards code.

Filed under: Latest News

George Monbiot vindicated in solar PV advert complaint!

George Monbiot, controversial environmental columnist for the Guardian Newspaper, was quoted out of context in a solar advert by a British solar PV company. George Monbiot then made a complaint to the ASA. Here is the summary…

An ad, in a magazine about sustainable living, was headed “we design and install solar electricity systems”. Further text stated “It has never been a better time to invest in a solar photovoltaic system”. A supposed testimonial read “‘If you own a house and can afford the investment, you’d be crazy not to cash in.’ Feed-in tariff sceptic, George Monbiot”.

Being named in the solar advert, George Monbiot contacted the ASA, asking whether the solar PV company’s testimonial was misleading, because it had been taken out of context from the quoted article, in which he actually opposed the introduction of feed in tariffs.

The solar PV company involved (which was told not to so again) apparently had great credentials, being both MCS registered and a member of the REAL Assurance Consumer Code.

It is interesting that Solar Twin Ltd also subscribe to the REAL Consumer Code, a seemingly dead body to which we must subscribe as a condition of state subsidy rules. In our view the REAL Code need to liven up a bit, because they have failed to act promptly to protect the solar consumer. Once we asked the REAL Code to end misleading performance claims by another leading UK solar company, one which operates at the highest levels of the UK solar industry. Video on this and related issues is here. REAL responded to us with sarcasm that was stronger than action. The misleading claims (misleading from our perspective) trundled on. Finally we sent them to the ASA. We are awaiting an ASA decision.

The ASA found that the solar PV company’s advertisement breached the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1, 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.47 and 3.48 (Endorsements and Testimonials). Full details of the 13 April 2011 ASA decision is here.


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