Wednesday 5 July 2006 06 – lawfuel – Press Release Service – Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac) has agreed to review advertising for the Westpac One savings account after concerns raised by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). ASIC was concerned that the advertisements were misleading, or likely to mislead.
ASIC was concerned that the Westpac One savings account was advertised with a 5.8 per cent interest rate ‘on everyday savings’. However, consumers have to satisfy a number of conditions to get this interest rate, which makes it potentially unsuitable as an everyday savings account.
The advertised rate only applies if, during the month, the consumer makes no withdrawals and makes at least one deposit, otherwise the interest rate is reduced to zero for that month. The savings account is also only available as part of a package of Westpac banking products. In response to ASIC’s concerns, Westpac agreed to cease its existing advertising campaign.
ASIC’s Deputy Executive Director, Consumer Protection, Ms Delia Rickard confirmed ASIC’s previously stated view that, when a headline claim is subject to exclusions or qualifications, those qualifications must be contained within the headline claim itself or be very clearly or prominently noted. ‘Consumers should not be required to take additional steps, or read separate information, in order to understand the important exclusions or qualifications that apply to a headline statement’, Ms Rickard said.
While acknowledging the constructive approach taken by Westpac, both in considering and responding to ASIC’s concerns, Ms Rickard warned the financial services industry that it was on notice regarding ASIC’s approach to this type of advertising.
‘Our position about unstated or concealed qualifications is clear, and if financial institutions ignore our warnings, ASIC will not hesitate to take action’, she said. For further information contact: Ms Delia Rickard Deputy Executive Director, Consumer Protection Telephone: 02 6250 3801 Mobile: 0412 673 026 Danielle Huck ASIC Media Unit Telephone: 03 9280 3407 Mobile: 0417 540 769