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ASCI got 1000+ complaints against misleading advertising for Department of Consumer Affairs

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MUMBAI: Last year, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) had appointed the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to monitor web portal www.gama.gov.in – GAMA being an acronym for “Grievances Against Misleading Advertisements”. 

GAMA was launched on 18 March 2015 and has received over 1000 complaints till date. ASCI claims that all GAMA complaints have been diligently processed it in a media release. A majority of these complaints came from individual consumers as well as few consumer organizations like the Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC). The portal received complaints against advertisements of products and services from almost all sectors (telecom, banking, consumer durables, etc. and emerging sectors like e-Commerce) across a range of advertising media (TV, print, web-sites, other digital mediums, etc.). Some of the well-known brands’ advertisements which were complained against were processed by ASCI via GAMA portal and the complaints were upheld by the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC). In all those cases the advertisers either withdrew the advertisements or modified them as appropriate within the stipulated period and compliance to the CCC decisions was assured.

Commenting on the success of GAMA portal, Department of Consumer Affairs secretary C.Viswanath said, “The problem of misleading advertisements is extensive and needs immediate attention. Launch of the GAMA portal is helping us to accomplish the vision we have towards protecting consumers’ interest. The need for the government and a self-regulatory body like ASCI to work together to provide effective and timely grievance redressal to consumers is key to tackle the issue. This model successfully demonstrates “More governance and less government.”

Speaking on behalf of ASCI, its chairman Benoy Roychowdhury added, “ASCI was entrusted with the responsibility of GAMA complaints processing. I am very happy that ASCI has been able to speedily address all 1000 plus complaints received till date. This co-regulation initiative between the government and ASCI, has further enhanced effectiveness of protecting consumers from advertisements which could be making misleading, false or unsubstantiated claims. We wish GAMA, entering its second year, greater success.”

The complaints of misleading advertisements received on GAMA portal, are handled in a three tier system. First complaints are processed by ASCI, the second level of escalation in case of non-compliance to a sub-committee headed by the joint secretary DoCA, under Inter Ministerial Monitoring Committee (IMMC) and in the end, the concerned regulator empowered by law to take action in case of persistent offenders.

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