Daily Mail repeatedly publishes ads for fake limited company

  1. The Daily Mail persists in publishing full-page ads for a fake limited company, despite my complaints to the newspaper.
  2. Health Broadcast Ltd is the advertiser. There’s no UK-registered company with that name, according to the Companies House register.
  3. I first came across Health Broadcast Ltd ads in the Mail on 11 March 2017, in an ad for “detox foot patches”: Daily Mail 11 Mar 2017 p.100. When I rang the freephone number shown, no one could explain why Health Broadcast Ltd wasn’t on the Companies House register, either. Further, everyone I spoke to referred to “Health Broadcast” only, without the “Ltd” (Limited) suffix.
  4. On the same day, I complained to the Mail’s readers’ editor (email). I received an anonymous response a few days later, thanking me for contacting the newspaper. He/she had “alerted our advertising department and asked them to investigate as a matter of urgency.” I wrote back the same day saying I expected to hear from the Mail in due course.
  5. But I didn’t hear anything.
  6. On 27 May 2017, meanwhile, Health Broadcast Ltd had another full-page ad in the paper; this time for a “pain-relieving gel”: Daily Mail 27 May 2017 p.104. I therefore complained again to the readers’ editor, on 1 June 2017, pointing out this was the second time I’d done so. I finished by asking: why does the Daily Mail persist in betraying its readers for the sake of the advertiser?
  7. I received another anonymous response from the “readers’ editor’s office” the next day. It said: “We have passed your latest email on to our advertising department and asked them to look into it. We will revert to you when we can shed further light on the situation.”
  8. Yet, again, I heard nothing.
  9. On 8 July 2017, I then saw the ad for the “pain-relieving gel” again: Daily Mail 8 July 2017. But Health Broadcast Ltd had changed its trading address to prestigious Mayfair in central London – 43 Berkeley Square, London W1J 5AP. This is the address of Hatton & Berkeley Global Limited (registered company number: 10145165), a professional business services firm. Its services include virtual offices in London; 43 Berkeley Square is its Berkeley Square virtual office address. (www.hattonandberkeley-virtualoffice.com)
  10. On 12 July 2017, I called the phone number in the latest ad, which remained the same after the change in trading address. Again, my call was answered as “Health Broadcast” only. And again, the call handler seemingly couldn’t explain why Health Broadcast Ltd wasn’t registered at Companies House. But he could supply an email address for the alleged limited company: customerservices@healthbroadcastltd.com.
  11. At date of publication I haven’t received a response to emails asking why Health Broadcast Ltd isn’t on the Companies House register.
  12. Also, at date of publication there isn’t a company website at domain healthbroadcastltd.com. Without a website, there’s almost no publicly available information about the alleged limited company. Matthew Ward at UpsilonDM Limited (registered company number: 07207377) is registrant of the domain, according to Whois records. Filings at Companies House show Mr Ward is sole director of UpsilonDM Limited, which has a registered office address in Whitley Bay in North East England.
  13. The Health Broadcast Ltd full-page ads continue in the Daily Mail – the most recent I saw was on 14 August 2017: Daily Mail 14 Aug 2017 p.68. Here I say nothing about the validity (or not) of the health claims in the ads. Rather, I ask only: why is the newspaper persisting in publishing ads for a fake limited company?

Company gets its own name wrong in ad – and ASA says it’s ok

  1. On 11 April 2017, I saw an unclear and misleading ad for the “Bio-Mag Therapy Bracelet” in the Daily Mirror newspaper, p.35. Here’s a scanned copy of the ad: Daily Mirror 11 April 2017 p.35. The advertiser is UK Direct Shop Ltd, which specifies a UK address.
  2. The ad is unclear and misleading because there’s no UK-registered company with that name, according to the Companies House register.
  3. When I rang the phone number in the ad, no one could explain why UK Direct Shop Ltd wasn’t on the Companies House register, either. Further, everyone I spoke to referred to “UK Direct Shop” only, without the “Ltd” (Limited) suffix.
  4. The ad refers to a website, where the company is identified as UK Direct Shop Services Ltd (screen shot in Figure 1). This company is on the Companies House register – registered company number: 09658267.

    Figure 1. UK Direct Shop homepage at 12 April 2017

  5. I complained about the ad to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). In an email the advertising regulator dismissed my complaint: “Under the advertising codes, there is no requirement of an advertiser to state their full company name in their own advertising – they only need to ensure that they don’t mislead consumers by omitting their identity. As both you and I have been able to easily locate them on Companies House from the details in the ad [the website], we don’t propose further action on this occasion.”
  6. I told the ASA I was baffled by its reasoning. An inaccurate company name is misleading, too, by definition.
  7. I had thought a consumer could reasonably expect a company to get its own name right in an ad. It seems not.