Consumer affairs minister hits out at Ford UK verdict

A Government minister has attacked advertising watchdogs for not helping customers who felt they had been ’ripped off’ by Ford UK.

A Government minister has attacked advertising watchdogs for not

helping customers who felt they had been ’ripped off’ by Ford UK.



Kim Howells, the consumer affairs minister, claimed that only a

’technicality’ had saved Ford from censure by the Advertising Standards

Authority for failing to honour a price pledge.



His criticism came in the week the Government ordered car companies to

slash prices after a Competition Commission report found consumers were

being charged up to 12 per cent more for new cars in the UK than in

other European countries.



The Department of Trade and Industry complained to the ASA about a

national press ad by Ford, which promised that if it cut prices to stay

competitive it would refund the recommended retail price maintenance

difference to customers who had already bought new cars from authorised

dealers.



But last week the ASA cleared Ford of breaking advertising rules -

despite the DTI’s claims that the company had reduced the price of some

models but had refused to reimburse the difference to customers who had

bought them at the original price.



Howells, speaking at the launch of a video explaining the ASA’s work to

consumer groups and the public, said: ’Ford wriggled off on a

technicality.’



Chris Graham, the ASA’s director-general, said that the video aimed to

answer frequently asked questions. ’It hasn’t been easy to put together

a video that’s as suitable for a sixth form as for a consumer group but

I believe we’ve succeeded,’ he said.



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