Latest British Passport News

This blog provides the latest news and information surrounding the application and renewal of British passports. This news resource claims no government connection or accreditation or connection with Her Majesty’s Passport Office and we accept no liability for any errors, omissions or loss incurred whilst using this resource. You are welcome to publish these articles on your own website.

  • 17

    Dec

    Ombudsman Slams Advertising Watchdog For “Serious Flaw” in Copycat Website Investigation

    The UK’s Advertising Watchdog has come under fire after the Independent Reviewer of Advertising Standards Authority adjudications found a serious flaw in the investigation of one of the largest third party websites in the passport industry finding that ASA executives failed to consider research the agency had itself commissioned that would determine whether or not the website would mislead consumers. This serious error has forced the agency to re-open the investigation into the UKPassportOffices.co.uk website (case number: A14-273276).

    The Advertising Standards Authority has made a strong point in 2014 to clamp down on misleading copycat websites that typically advertise on search engines that provide “document checking” and other services for a fee of £40 – £80 to access government services as has the Committee of Advertising Practice who since October 2014 has taken an active role in closely monitoring copycat sites and taking enforcement action against those who are not compliant with the CAP code.

    In September the ASA published its findings of an investigation into website UKPassportOffices.co.uk finding that it was likely to mislead consumers into believing that it was a government website and that consumers were likely to believe that they were paying for the passport fee instead of this third parties services. No mention of the IPSOS Mori consumer research was made.

    This irregularity prompted an investigation by the Independent Reviewer of ASA judgments, Sir Hayden Phillips who after carefully considering the facts found in early November that the Advertising Standards Authority had made a serious error in their conduct when investigating the complaint. The agency was slammed for failing to reference their own consumer research into copycat websites which focused exclusively on how consumers interact with copycat websites, whether they could tell the difference between the commercial sites and official government websites and findings of what the average consumer found misleading.

    The ASA has been accused of white washing the case and having an agenda to find against the website regardless of the facts by Richard Howard the owner UK Services & Support Ltd and the UKPassportOffices.co.uk website who claims that the IPSOS Mori research exonerates his website from any claim that it is misleading. He claims the ASA intentionally ignored this research so that they could upheld the complaint and show to government and the media that they’re clamping down on all copycat websites regardless of  whether they abide by the CAP code or mislead customers or not. All third party websites will suffer the same fate he believes.

    The ASA were asked comment on why they failed to take into consideration or even mention the IPSOS Mori research when investigating the complaint into UKPassportOffices.co.uk an ASA spokesmen replied….

    The Advertising Standards Authority refused to make a comment.

    When asked why they had not updated the adjudication page to advise the media and public of this serious flaw they replied…

    The Advertising Standards Authority refused to make a comment.

    Questions have also been raised by Howard over the ASA’s interpretation of the “average consumer”. The law and the watchdogs CAP code defines the average consumer as informed and reasonably observant and circumspect. However Howard blasts the agency for watering down the legal definition to suit the agenda of the ASA investigation. No case would have been opened if the true definition of the typical consumer had been used Howard claims. He also disputes the label “copycat website” for UKPassportOffices.co.uk stating that the company offers a package of 25 items for the service fee that it charges with only 3 also available from Her Majesty’s Passport Office.

    When asked for comment on why the ASA found that an informed and reasonably observant and circumspect person would be misled by the advertising on UKPassportOffices.co.uk when each page contained multiple disclaimers they replied…

    The Advertising Standards Authority refused to make a comment.

    The Ipsos Mori research also found that the majority of consumers saw the value of copycat websites, did not see the need to have them outlawed or even regulated. UKPassportOffices.co.uk also claims to have integrated all of the “best practice” suggestions made by consumers in research and says they do comply in full with the CAP code. Howard claims that this is a clear case of politicians and government agencies ignoring public opinion and pushing forward with their own personal desires.

    When asked whether there would be any job losses or disciplinary action brought against those who caused this blunder they replied….

    The Advertising Standards Authority refused to make a comment.


    Summary

    Their is NO Adjudication against UKPassportOffices.co.uk nor any “Upheld” complaint against the accusation that our website could be confused as a government resource or that customers could be “mislead” into believing that they were paying for the passport fee when using our website. The A14-273276 investigation found at: http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2014/9/UK-Services-and-Support-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_273276.aspx#.VJGCkiusV8E is no longer active due to the error in the executives investigation.

    Those who wish to validate that this is the case should contact the ASA on: 020 7492 2222 


  • 05

    Dec

    UK Services & Support Ltd

    It has been confirmed that the Independent Adjudicator or the Advertising Standards Authority’s investigations has found a “serious flaw” in the executives investigation of our website UKPassportOffices.co.uk and the subsequent decision that the ASA council made to upheld the complaint against this third party website operated by UK Services & Support Ltd in stating that our website would likely mislead consumers into believing that our company would be confused with Her Majesty’s Passport Office or www.Gov.uk service and that consumers would believe that they were paying for the passport fee when paying our private company fees.

    The Independent Adjudicator agreed that there was a serious error in not referencing the Consumer Experience into Copycat websites research that it commissioned in the early part of 2014 which investigated how consumers interacted with third party websites, also known as “copycat” websites by the Advertising Standards Authority and ordered that the  case be re-opened with the council making an informed decision based on the findings of 1000 random consumers.

    Details of this research can be found here: http://www.asa.org.uk/News-resources/Media-Centre/2014/~/media/Files/ASA/Hot%20Topics/Consumer%20experiences%20of%20copycat%20websites.ashx

    At the time of posting.

    If you have any questions about this case, website or UK Services And Support Ltd in general please contact us via phone or email.

  • 05

    Sep

    Newport Passport Office Closure

    Consumers should be aware that the Newport Passport located at Nexus House, Mission Court, Newport, Gwent, NP20 2DW is closed for 4th and 5th of September. Applicants who have appointments at Newport for this date are advised to call back Her Majesty’s Passport Office or the third party provider who secured them their appointment to re-schedule their appointment. The closure is not expected to affect the applications already lodged at the Newport Passport Office which should be processed within the standard time window. The office will re-open for Premium and Fast Track appointments on Saturday 6th September.

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