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Dealing with complaints FAQs

  • Make a Complaint

    How we handle complaints

    Here we answer some commonly asked questions about how we handle complaints

  • Question

    About the ASA

    Here are some of the most asked questions by consumers about the ASA.

    Go to general questions about the ASA

Dealing with complaints

We work hard to ensure our complaints procedures are as open and transparent as possible. Here we answer some commonly asked questions about how we handle complaints.

Can I e-mail you my complaint?
How will I know you’ve received my complaint?
Will you keep me informed of the progress of my complaint?
Is there a time limit on making a complaint?
Why do I need to provide you with my full contact details?
Who decides whether or not the complaint should be upheld?
What are the rules for advertising?
What types of advertising do we deal with?
How many complaints do you receive each year?
What data is available about complaints made to the ASA?
Do I need to get more people to complain for the ASA to take action?
How do I show support for a campaign?
How do I complain about the ASA or a decision the ASA has made?
My complaint appears to fall outside of the ASA’s remit – who else can I complain to?
Will you pass my details on to the advertiser?
How long will it take for you to deal with my complaint?
How can I be sure the ASA is independent?
How does the ASA deal with multiple complaints that are submitted as part of an organised campaign?
I’ve been told the complaint I’ve made is being referred for compliance action. What does this mean? 
I have a general question about the ASA. Where do I find further information?

Can I e-mail you my complaint?

We ask you to complete our online complaints form rather than e-mail us your complaint. This is to help us deal with complaints quickly and efficiently by collecting all the relevant information we need right from the start.

If you experience any problems with the complaints form please contact us

How will I know you’ve received my complaint?

If you have submitted your complaint online you will receive an initial automated response. However you will only receive your complaint reference number when your complaint is logged by our Complaints team. We aim to acknowledge complaints within five working days of receipt. 

Will you keep me informed of the progress of my complaint?

We will usually let you know the outcome of your complaint. However, should we receive a high number of complaints about a specific sector or group of advertisers we may adopt a 'project' approach. If this happens complainants will not hear from us in the normal way, but we will contact you to confirm if this is happening so you will know what to expect.

Is there a time limit on making a complaint?

Complaints must be made within three months of the marketing communication’s appearance, although in exceptional circumstances complaints about older marketing communications will be considered.

Why do I need to provide you with my full contact details?

We require your name and contact details so we can log your complaint properly and correspond with you. We do not disclose the name of complainants to advertisers unless absolutely necessary and in those circumstances we will ask for your permission first.

We may ask you to supply information about the type of organisation you work for; this is because the complaints process differs for individuals, competitors or organisations with obvious business or professional interests. We name complainants who have an interest.
We will not sell, rent or exchange your details with any other organisation. Our full Privacy Policy can be found here.

Who decides whether or not the complaint should be upheld?

The ASA Council is the independent jury that is solely responsible for deciding if the Advertising Codes have been breached. 

What are the rules for advertising?

The Advertising Codes lay down rules for advertisers and media owners to follow. They include general rules that state advertising must be responsible, must not mislead, or offend, and specific rules that cover advertising to children and ads for alcohol, gambling, motoring, health and financial products.

What types of advertising do we deal with?

We regulate the content of advertising, sales promotions and direct marketing in the UK. Read more about which type of advertisements we cover.

How many complaints do you receive each year?

Our complaints statistics for can be found in our Annual Reports.

What data is available about complaints made to the ASA?

A summary and breakdown of complaints received by the ASA features in our Annual Report each year. In addition, all rulings are published on our website every Wednesday.

If you require more detailed information about complaints received by the ASA, we will try to meet your request but we charge a per hour fee for requests requiring specialist database interrogation skills. If your request falls into this category, we will ask you to complete a Data Request Form, which helps us identify and extract the information you require as quickly as possible, thereby keeping charges to a minimum. We will advise you how long we think it will take to produce the information, and any associated charges, and you can then decide if you wish to proceed.

 

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Do I need to get more people to complain for the ASA to take action?

No – we only need one justified complaint to begin an investigation into an ad. Our concern is whether the Advertising Codes have been breached rather the simply the number of complaints we receive. Read more about how we deal with multiple complaints.

How do I show support for a campaign?

There is no mechanism for registering your support for an ad that the ASA is investigating. The ASA responds to complaints from members of the public or industry about ads that they believe are misleading, harmful or offensive. It is our role to establish whether an ad is in breach of the Advertising Codes, not to monitor levels of public support for an ad.

How do I complain about the ASA or a decision the ASA has made?

If you are the advertiser or complainant in a case and you disagree with the ASA’s decision you may be able to request a review of an ASA Council decision. Both sides have 21 days from when they were informed of the ASA Council decision to ask the Independent Reviewer of ASA Adjudications to review the case. But you must be able to establish that a substantial flaw of process or adjudication is apparent, or show that additional relevant evidence is available. If the Independent Reviewer accepts a request for a review he can ask the ASA Council to reconsider its ruling. More information about the Independent Review procedure can be found here.

We aim to provide advertisers and consumers with a consistently high standard of service. We understand that, on some occasions, you may not be happy with the service you have received and we would like you to tell us why.  If you wish to make a complaint about the way the ASA has handled your complaint, please read more here.

 

If you wish to complain about the ASA in relation to its role regulating TV or radio advertising, you may contact Ofcom.

The ASA is not formally overseen by a particular Government department, but if you wish to complain about advertising regulation in general, and you feel that we cannot be of assistance, then you may wish to write to your local MP.

My complaint appears to fall outside of the ASA’s remit – who else can I complain to?

Sometimes we can't help because the Advertising Codes we apply do not cover the type of advertisement or problem complained about. Read more about other organisations who can deal with those issues or who can offer advice about them.

Will you pass my details on to the advertiser?

All complaints are kept confidential from the advertiser, unless you are asking us to get your name taken off a mailing list.

If you are an individual, competitor, body or organisation with a direct interest or professional interest in the outcome of the complaint, we will also ask you to be named as the complainant before progressing your complaint.

How long will it take for you to deal with my complaint?

We try to resolve complaints as quickly as possible, but we have a duty to ensure that our investigations and decisions are thorough and robust. Obviously each complaint will take a different length of time to resolve. Straightforward issues where the advertiser agrees to amend their advertising without a formal investigation can be resolved in a matter of days, where as more complex investigations can take much longer.

How can I be sure the ASA is independent?

We are independent of both the Government and the advertising industry and we are recognised by the Government, the courts and other regulators such as the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and Ofcom as the body to deal with complaints about advertising.

The system is funded by a levy on advertising spend. This is collected at arms-length on behalf of the ASA by two bodies: the Advertising Standards Board of Finance (asbof) and the Broadcast Advertising Standards Board of Finance (basbof).

The levy is collected at arms-length to maintain the independence of the system. It ensures that the system is properly funded, whilst ensuring that ASA decisions are not influenced by those who may or may not be funding the system.

How does the ASA deal with multiple complaints that are submitted as part of an organised campaign?

When we receive a large number of similar complaints that relate to a specific industry or group of advertisers it is more efficient for us to deal with one primary complaint that addresses the majority of concerns raised. Read more about how we deal with multiple complaints and what it means for advertisers and complainants.

I’ve been told the complaint I’ve made is being referred for compliance action. What does this mean?

It is likely that you have brought to our attention a known problem on which the ASA has already adjudicated. In such cases there is no need to carry out a new investigation so the matter is passed straight to the Compliance teams who will work with the advertisers to help ensure the problem claims are amended or removed. The Compliance teams can also apply sanctions against advertisers who are unwilling or unable to ensure they work within the rules. The Compliance team do not correspond with complainants so you will not hear from us again, but should be assured that we will act on your concerns if appropriate. FAQs about the ASA General FAQs FAQs Dealing with complaints

FAQs about the ASA FAQs dealing with complaints

 

 

 

 

ASA Rulings

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Dealing with complaints - FAQs

We work hard to ensure our complaints procedures are transparent. Here we answer some commonly asked questions about how we handle complaints.

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