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Banned advert sparks row between ACS and Calor Gas

An Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) inquiry into allegations of misleading advertising has sparked a row between Calor Gas and ACS Renewable Solutions.

The investigation was carried out after Calor Gas alleged in November 2010 that an ACS pamphlet promoting air-source heat pumps constituted misleading advertising, resulting in the ASA banning further circulation (see attached press releases)

The row was sparked after Calor Gas issued a statement saying that it “welcomes” the ASA’s decision. In the statement, Calor Gas head of strategy Paul Blacklock referred to “dodgy sales tactics” by solar panel companies.

ACS is concerned that the reference amounts to a suggestion that its sales tactics are also “dodgy”. ACS managing director David Knibbs said: “We are clearly very disappointed with the ASA decision but we accept their rationale and reasoning.”

The company said it aimed the pamphlet at ‘off-grid’ houses with no access to mains gas. Calor Gas said the complaint was brought to the ASA because the company markets gas to off-grid areas as well, meaning misleading advertising could unfairly harm its business.

The authority, which has now published its findings, upheld three of five challenges by Calor Gas to claims made by ACS. A spokesman for the Advertising Standards Authority said: “Our ruling has absolutely nothing to do with sales tactics. It’s about the issue of properly substantiating claims with evidence.”

* See attached press releases for more information