If you... advertise your goods or services
Businesses which advertise their goods or services have to comply with the general principle which governs all advertising - this means that all advertising must be:
- Decent and
Forms of advertising
Remember that advertisements may take many different forms, such as:
- Press advertisements in newspapers or magazines
- Television or radio commercials
- Posters telling the public about, say, a forthcoming concert
- Shop signs (giving information unique to a particular shop)
- Sales/direct mail letters
- Faxes of promotional material
Just because you are not paying a publisher to advertise doesn't mean that you are not advertising your products or services. The advertising material on your own shop sign or in a fax sent by your staff is still subject to the regulations outlined in this guide.
Businesses advertising- in any medium - are governed by consumer protection legislation enforced by the National Consumer Agency. This makes it an offence to make false or misleading claims about your goods or services and prices.
What happens if an advert has wrong prices?
If you do give a wrong price, you must point this out to the customer before the transaction takes place.
However, you may be in breach of consumer protection legislation and liable to prosecution by the National Consumer Agency.
By law, businesses must display tax-inclusive prices of goods and services to consumers. That means, for example, that prices in advertisements aimed at consumers must be complete.
They must include all taxes including Value Added Tax and not have any extra "hidden" charges. If the price doesn't include VAT, for example, you may be misleading consumers and in breach of consumer legislation.
Advertising on radio or television
Radio and television commercials are subject to extra regulations and standards. If you are advertising on radio or TV you need to familiarise itself with the codes of standards and practices in this area. These are wide-ranging, and cover issues such as:
- Advertisements that are false or misleading or "prejudice the interest of consumers"
- Commercials during children's programmes
- Not using news presenters - or expressions such as "News Flash" in a commercial
There are also many codes specific to particular products or services. For example:
- Cigarettes and tobacco (advertising in Ireland is prohibited)
- Slimming products
- Products that make environmental claims
The Broadcasting Complaints Commission is an independent statutory body that handles complaints about the content of broadcasts by television and radio stations channels based in Ireland.
Complaints are dealt with under headings such as "taste and decency", and codes of practice in advertising.
The commission's decisions are available to the public, but complaints are made against the broadcaster rather than against the advertiser per se. The commission does not have any power to award costs or expenses to any party.
The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) is a self-regulatory body set up and financed by the advertising industry to promote better standards in advertising and sales promotion.
ASAI members are required to abide by its codes and not to publish advertisements or conduct promotions which contravene its codes.
Concert and theatre tickets
There are also specific regulations about how to advertise concerts and theatre shows. The Consumer Information (Advertisements for Concert or Theatre Performances) Order 1997 requires that "written" advertisements (for example in newspapers, on posters or on the Web) for concerts or theatre performances must indicate the admission price.
Where applicable, they must also show separately the amount in monetary or percentage terms of any additional costs such as booking fees, credit card charges, agents fees.
The same legislation requires that in other forms of advertising (for example on radio or TV) the admission price must be stated together with a reference to the fact that an additional charge may be payable in certain circumstances.
Read the full Consumer Protection Act, 2007
Learn more about broadcasting standards
Read some of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission's latest decisions
Check the rules and codes governing advertising, on the Advertising Standards Authority's website