Sanral e-tag ad misleading - watchdog

Johannesburg - The SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) could not prove it had sold 1.2 million e-tolling tags, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has found.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) and two others had lodged complaints with ASA against Sanral's e-tolling adverts.

Outa objected to Sanral's radio advert thanking "the people and organisations that have taken up 1.2 million tags for the Gauteng e-roads".

Outa submitted that its organisation, journalists, and other organisations had repeatedly asked for proof that 1.2 million e-tags had been sold.

"The claim that '1.2 million... tags' have been sold to date appears to be unsubstantiated in terms of the code and is therefore in contravention of clause 4.1 of section II," the ASA ruled.

"By virtue of this, it appears that the claim is also misleading, and in contravention of... the code."

Sanral was ordered to withdraw the claim.

Flawed and ambiguous

Another complainant, Steven Haywood, said the statistics quoted in Sanral's campaign promoting its e-toll tags were flawed and ambiguous.

Despite being afforded ample time, Sanral did not submit any evidence or independent verification for its claims.

"The directorate has no option but to find that the statistics and figures quoted in the radio commercial and print advertisement are currently unsubstantiated, and in breach of clause 4.1 of section II of the code," the ASA said in its ruling on Friday.

"As a result of this, consumers are likely to be misled by the respondent's advertising message, rendering the relevant statistics and figures in breach of... the code."

Sanral was ordered to withdraw the statistics and figures. It was not allowed to use them again unless appropriate substantiation had been submitted and accepted by way of a new ASA ruling.

Are e-roads safer?

A third complaint against Sanral was partially upheld. The complainant, Sheleen Long, said a commercial implying that the e-roads were safer as a result of lights and cameras was misleading.

In the commercial it was claimed that people with e-tags had recognised "the benefits of the improved roads".

Their contributions would go towards maintaining roads, employing medics and rescue teams, keeping the lights on, and security cameras running.

"The commercial associates the cameras to a kind of surveillance system, which ex facie is not the case," the ASA ruled.

"In the absence of any contradictory argument from the respondent, the directorate agrees that the reference to keeping the cameras 'watching over you' creates a misleading impression, and exaggerates the functionality and purpose of these cameras."

This was also a contravention of the advertising code.

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