Business rapped by ASA for using NHS in URL 

A UK visa processing services company has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Agency for using a URL that mistakenly implied it was connected to the NHS.

Esta Vista Ltd used the web address in an advert for services related to the European Health Insurance Card. The ASA received a complaint about the matter in July.

Although the company stated on its website that it was not affiliated with the NHS, the ASA too the view that "that the use of the term "www.nhs-services" in the URL implied the advertiser was the NHS, which consumers would know to be the official provider of health services in the UK.

"Because that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading," the ASA said in a statement.

"The ad must not appear again in its current form," it ruled. "We told Esta Visa to ensure they did not imply they were linked to the NHS."

Commenting on the case, Laurence Eastham. editor of the Society for Computers and Law website, remarked that despite the ASA’s ruling, the lack of any sanctions against Esta Vista Ltd mean that "even those within the ASA’s jurisdiction might just as well carry on misleading". 

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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