Kia first introduced the seven year warranty for vehicles built in its Slovakian factory. It is now standard range-wide

Kia first introduced the seven year warranty for vehicles built in its Slovakian factory. It is now standard range-wide

Kia Motors (UK) on Wednesday said it had altered print, TV and radio advertising after complaints from extended warranty provider Warranty Direct and a member of the public were upheld by the Advertising Standards Association (ASA).

The ruling concerned recent advertisements for the automaker's seven year warranty.

Kia said the advertising had been cleared in advance by Clearcast, the CAP Copy Advice Team and the RACC but had nonetheless been altered after the ASA made its ruling.

The changes are quite detailed. The TV ad has been amended to say "Terms and exclusions apply" instead of "Terms and conditions apply" and is now on screen for the full duration of the ad. Kia has also changed the wording change on its print ads.

The radio ad was amended to include the 100,000 mile criterion.

Marketing director Simon Hetherington said in a statement emailed to just-auto: "We are very proud of our warranty and are absolutely committed to communicating clearly on it. We believe that this is what we tried to do and that we were in line with other comparable advertisements, nonetheless we accept the ASA ruling and immediately acted to change the advertisements concerned which were back on air prior to the adjudication being released."

Kia's UK unit introduced the seven year warranty for the Slovakian-built Cee'd model line in April 2007 and extended it to its entire range from 1 January this year. In addition, 'approved used vehicles' sold through its dealer network since April 2009 have been supplied with a warranty equivalent to that when they were new.

There are several terms and exclusions such as no mileage limit during the first three years, except for vehicles used as taxis where a limit of 100,000 miles applies; a 100,000 mile limit between years four and seven; a five year/100,000 mile limit for paintwork, three years/60,000 miles limit for audio, two years' coverage for batteries and the exclusion of routine 'wear and tear' items such as brake and clutch linings from cover.

The warranty is also transferable, at no cost, to subsequent owners and valid across Europe.

According to an ASA statement, Warranty Direct had challenged whether Kia's print and TV ads were misleading, because the TV ad failed to give sufficient prominence to the 100,000-mile limit; the warranty cover period varied for different items, such as batteries and air conditioning; and the liability of Kia under the warranty was limited solely to the repair or replacement of original parts defective in material or workmanship and did not relate to the wearing of parts through general use.

A member of the public challenged whether the radio ad was misleading, because it failed to state that the seven-year warranty was subject to a 100,000 mile maximum limit.

The ASA ruled that, although the mileage limit was included in the final frames of the TV ad underneath the central image of the Kia logo, this information was not on-screen during the visual and voice-over description of the warranty.

"We subsequently considered that the general impression of the ad, and repeated references to the number seven, was that the warranty would last for seven years regardless of miles driven. We considered that the 100,000 mileage limit was a significant condition of the seven year warranty and as such should have appeared in the main section of the ad. We concluded the mileage limit was not displayed with sufficient clarity and prominence and concluded that [the TV ad] was therefore likely to mislead," it said.

The ASA said it understood the various cover periods for different terms only applied to non-mechanical items in the car. "However, we considered that without qualification, most consumers would assume that all of the items that were covered by the warranty, would be covered for the same period. We considered that these exclusions were not adequately covered by the invitation in [the press ad] to visit the Kia website, or, by the on-screen text in [the TV ad] which stated "terms and conditions apply". We concluded that the press and TV ads] were likely to mislead."

The ASA did not, however, uphold Warranty Direct's claim that Kia's ads did not make clear that 'wear and tear' items were excluded from the warranty.

"We understood that wear and tear was damage which naturally and inevitably occurred as a result of normal wear or ageing and that the phrase was used in a legal context for the purpose of warranties. We considered that most consumers would expect car parts to deteriorate as a result of time and mileage and would not expect any wear and tear to be covered by a manufacturers warranty. We also understood that most car manufacturers warranties did not cover wear and tear as standard. Although we understood that some independent car warranties did cover wear and tear in some of their policies, we considered that consumers would understand that [the press and TV ads] were making a comparison with other car manufacturers' warranties and not those of independent companies specialising in warranties. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead," it said.

The member of the public's claim that the radio ad was misleading, because it failed to state that the seven-year warranty was subject to a 100,000 mile maximum limit, was upheld.

The ASA said: "We acknowledged that the first three years of the warranty had unlimited mileage. However, we noted consumers who exceeded the 100,000-mile limit during the first three years of that warranty would not be covered for the following four years because the 100,000 limit for the whole seven years had already been exceeded. We understood that, when the 100,000-mile limit was applied across the full seven years of the warranty, this equated to just over 14,285 miles per year. Although we understood this exceeded the average annual mileage, we considered that some drivers could reach the total 100,000 limit over seven-years. We also considered that because seven year warranties were not typical within the industry, and Kia Motors were promoting their vehicles specifically by reference to the warranty, the 100,000 mileage restriction was a significant condition of this warranty and as such should have been made clear in the ad. Because that information was omitted, we concluded that [the ad] was likely to mislead."

"The ads should not appear again in their current form. We told Kia to ensure that future ads clearly stated that exclusions and restrictions, including the mileage limit, applied to the seven-year warranty."

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