Magical headlouse repelling badge ad still online despite ASA adjudication (UPDATE: Headlice site down as of 10th May)

(UPDATE: The Maperton Trust Headlice site was taken down on 10th May so my links are broken. My original post remains below for information/archive purposes.)

(UPDATE 12/08/11: The Maperton Trust has ceased trading. Details of how this came about are on the 21st Floor blog)

As I wrote here, the Maperton Trust have been told by the ASA to remove all claims their unicorn badge can repel headlice from their website. The central problem appears to be that they cannot substantiate their claims without a comprehensive understanding of the technology involved in space travel.

I assumed they had cheekily sidestepped the adjudication by simply moving the ad off their main site. Further reading however suggests they have simply ignored the ASA altogether.

Ben Goldacre wrote about the Maperton Trust and the Head Lice Repelling Unit (HELRU) back in January 2010, mentioning that various people have emailed him about it over the years. He describes and links to the very same pages I discussed yesterday, which leads me to believe the pages have not changed in the interim.

He also links to an article in the Independent from way back in 1996 describing a nonsensical computer based treatment (‘you can get any energy treatment you need – acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal remedies, gem therapy – just by connecting yourself up to your computer’). The Maperton Trust, needless to say, continue to promote this ‘treatment’ on their website.

Searching the forums of the Bad Science site reveals this thread, where the original HELRU/ASA complainant comments that the ad had still not been taken down almost a week after adjudication.

I have taken screenshots of the offending headlice pages. After all, it would be a shame to lose such material. And you never know, they will be very handy if I decide to put in a complaint of my own.

5 responses to “Magical headlouse repelling badge ad still online despite ASA adjudication (UPDATE: Headlice site down as of 10th May)

  1. From the ASA website:

    The ASA does not just wait for complaints – we proactively check to see that the Codes as well as our rulings are adhered to, for example by seeing if any necessary changes have been made to advertisements.

    I would be surprised if any Maperton Trust product would pass the ASA’s tests, especially the ‘non-chemical’ tablets to ease prostate problems (I wish). So will the ASA attempt to close the site’s product promotions pages? There are hundreds (hopefully, but it may be more) of woo sites in the UK – some of them owned by charities – making unsubstantiated claims. And what about the homeopathy section of the Boots the Chemist website? (Sorry, this is probably the basis of a good rant as Boots seem to have this covered (with hypocrisy). I’ve just read the description of one of their products which says: ‘Boots Belladonna 30c Pillules is a homeopathic medicinal product without approved therapeutic indications.’ No mention of what it’s to be used for, just warnings about the sugar content and touching the pillules with your hands – just pop them straight in your mouth. That’s a product containing (!) belladonna – AKA deadly nightshade.)
    Does the ASA have enough staff to ‘proactively’ examine websites for non-compliance?
    Sadly, you are right about Dr Batras – the website is registered in India. It seems the ASA can only attempt to pull paid-for ads that appear in search engines. What about paid-for ads that appear on other pages that are generated abroad?

  2. I don’t know if anyone complained about the Maperton Trust’s main website but I agree there’s plenty to complain about on there (though I think it’s hard to imagine anyone with any sense being taken in by it).

    As far as homeopathy is concerned, after receiving over 150 complaints (as part of the Nightingale Collaboration’s Focus Of The Month in March), the ASA gave homeopaths another three months to sort out their websites. I don’t know about Boots in particular but I think a company of that size should be on the case and be very careful about how they word things. It’s interesting to note though that there are 15 informally resolved complaints listed on the ASA site, one of which (27th April) was about the Boots website.

    I don’t know if the ASA have time to monitor websites themselves but they’ll no doubt be very busy dealing with complaints at the moment (it’s only since March 1st that it’s been possible to complain about company websites and there seem to be plenty of people doing just that).

    • Maperton Trust people are genuine. My dog had a heart murmer stated by my veterinary. I used Maperton Trust and 4 months later when I took my dog into the vet, he said the heart murmer was gone. That was 2 years ago and my dog is still fine.

  3. Pingback: Weekly ASA adjudications, grace periods and blogging | Josephine Jones

  4. Paul Jameson-hall

    What a bunch of hypocritical morons you lot are
    1st off my daughter had a head lice badge and she was the only child in six years at school who never had headline in the whole of her class.
    2nd my son had major problems with his health we asked the major for help and guess what against all the odds he got our son back to good health after the medical profession gave up
    so all the hypocrits who don’t believe should keep there nose out for there sceptical views did a lot of damage.

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