Volume 13, Issue 2 - March/April 2011


Around the World
international issues


Advertising Standards Authority Upholds Complaint Against Belron UK
The United Kingdom (UK)-based Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently upheld one consumer complaint of misleading advertisements against Belron UK and dismissed two others. The complaints concerned two Autoglass radio and television ads. (Autoglass is Belron’s UK brand.)

The original complaints, made by both consumers and representatives of competitor UK-based Glass Doctors, alleged that the ads led the customer to believe that any windshield chip would result in a failure of the customer’s Ministry of Transport test (MOT), which is a UK test to determine if a vehicle is safe and ready to be driven on public roads.
The radio ad featured the following language:

“There are lots of reasons why a chipped windscreen could ruin your day ... a customer last week had left a little chip because he thought nothing of it, but when he put his car in for his MOT; fail. That little chip stopped the car passing ...”

The television ad said the following:
“If there’s a chip on your windscreen, it could be the difference between your car passing its MOT and failing … “

In addition to the claims that the ads were misleading regarding the MOT, complaints also alleged that the ad was misleading by not stating that neither the size of chips nor the position on the windshield would determine whether it was repairable.

Autoglass responded to complaints by saying that it was only trying to “draw motorists attention to the potential hazards in ignoring windscreen damage” and that it only had limited time to get its message across and could not include an explanation of chip sizes.

ASA upheld the MOT complaint regarding the radio ad, but neither of the others; the group also ruled that the radio ad should not run again in its current form.

According to Samantha Day-Tillotson, public relations manager for Autoglass, the radio ad had not undergone the company’s normal approval process.

“All Autoglass adverts go through a stringent approval process, but due to an oversight on this occasion this radio advert did not and the way the message was phrased was misinterpreted,” says Day-Tillotson. “As soon as the advert was broadcast we realized our mistake and we decided to withdraw it.”

She adds, “Autoglass apologizes for this error and as a result has tightened its approval processes.”

The ASA is an independent UK-based organization that “monitors advertising and ensures that consumers can trust what they see in advertisements.”

Belron Recalls Windshield Replacement Clips for Renault Megane Cabriolet V2
In other news at Belron, the company issued a recall for its windshield replacement clips made for the Renault Megane Cabriolet V2 in late February. The recall pertains to vehicles manufactured between October 2003 and July 2005, according to information from the European Commission (EC), and the parts carry the model number 7261AKCC1F.

“The product poses a risk of injuries because the outer trims on the left and right sides of the windscreen may detach from the car body when driven at high speed,” reads the official recall report from the EC. “The clips used to attach the trim to the car body are not sufficiently strong to hold the trim securely in position. In some cases, the trim may become detached and swing back, breaking the glass roof and/or side window and/or rear window.”

Renault is a France-based manufacturer, and its vehicles currently are not available in the United States. The clips were manufactured in Spain, according to the report, and seven incidents have been reported. The recall was issued voluntarily by Belron, according to the EC.

Belron sales and marketing director Jeff Boekstein says three of the incidents with the clips occurred in Germany, three in Belgium and one in The Netherlands.

“ … No serious injuries were sustained by any of the customers,” he adds.

Insurer Group Purchases Auto Windscreens’ Assets
Trifords Limited, a part of the United Kingdom-based Markerstudy Group, an insurance organization, purchased both the Auto Windscreens brand name and several of its assets in February, nearly two weeks after the company had been placed into administration.

Trifords says the purchase will create 250 jobs at the revived company. Nigel Davies, who previously served as sales and marketing director for Auto Windscreens, will manage the new business.

“It is fantastic news that the Auto Windscreens brand will continue, and from the ashes the phoenix will rise again,” says Davies. “Auto Windscreens is a highly recognized brand and therefore the name is being retained. Our intention is to provide a premier service, attracting fleet, insurer and personal customers. My aim is to grow the business in order to become a major player in the UK windscreen business.”

Markerstudy CEO Kevin Spencer adds, “When opportunities such as Auto Windscreens present themselves we can act quickly, which is exactly what we did on this occasion in order to acquire some valuable assets. Our intention is to build a new business using a known brand name. Of course it is related and complementary to the Group’s core insurance businesses”.

Markerstudy Group acquired three freehold sites from the Deloitte LLP, which had been appointed to serve as administrator for the company in early-February, including the former Auto Windscreens headquarters building in Chesterfield.

According to information from Deloitte, Auto Windscreens “had been implementing a major operational improvement plan, changing the business model to deliver significant operational efficiencies.”

“However, delays in implementation of the IT systems, coupled with lower than anticipated revenues in the final quarter of 2010, had led to cash flow pressures,” writes Deloitte. “The company had been in extensive discussions with a large number of interested parties to provide the funding required to recapitalize the business. However, before a recapitalization could be agreed, the company received a winding-up petition from a large creditor and also had notice from one of its major customers that it was terminating the contract.”

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