Advertising Council finds ads of major Coaching Institutes misleading

In a major crackdown on Advertisements released by the Coaching Institutes in print media as well as on their websites, engaged in field of Coaching Students for CAT, MBA, Law Entrance, Banking Examinations, the Advertisement Standard Council of India, has in its decision of January 2016 has found several of their ads to be misleading, unsubstantiated and ambiguous.

These Institutes as per the decision of the Advertising Council have claims of Ranking in the Entrance Examinations, Number of successful students, Coaching and Learning Material Preparations and Contents, Test Series, Coaching Pedagogy to influence the aspirants to join their Institutes.

In January 2016, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against major Coaching Institutions which operate in MBA / Engineering / Law Domain relating to misleading advertisements and unsubstantiated claims in their Advertisements. The CCC found that claims in the following advertisements were not substantiated and, thus, violated ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions.

1. CL Educate Ltd. (Career Launcher):

A] The claims in the advertisement, “CL, No.1 CAT coaching institute with 9629 IIM Calls in CAT’14. Best MBA prep for CAT, IIFT, XAT, NMAT, SNAP Exams“, “Best MBA prep for CAT, IIFT, XAT, NMAT, SNAP Exams” were not substantiated. The claims were misleading by exaggeration.

B] The claim in the advertisement, “Undisputed market leader in the field of Mgmt Entrance Training”, was false.

C] CAT’16/17: The claim in the advertisement, “9629 IIM calls in CAT 2014”, was not adequately substantiated and was misleading by ambiguity and omission of mention of number of students.

2. Think & Learn Pvt. Ltd. (Byju’s Cat Coaching Institute):

A] The claims in the advertisement, “Best CAT Coaching Institute in Delhi”, and “CAT Coaching by India’s Best Trainers, Byju and Santosh”, were not substantiated.

B] The claim in the advertisement, “Join the best coaching for CAT and boost your CAT preparation”, was not substantiated.

3. TathaGat (MBA Entrance / CAT coaching): The claim in the advertisement, “TathaGat is Delhi’s most successful MBA Entrance / CAT coaching institute for last 5 years now”, was not substantiated.

4. Bulls Eye: The claims in the advertisement, “Highest selection/conversion ratio in the industry”, “Best free prep website in India”, “Bulls eye test series is the best” and “Best free MBA preparation website in India”, were not substantiated.

5] National Banking Academy: The claim in the advertisement, “No.1 institute for BANK & SSC”, was not substantiated.

6] Sriram Law Academy: The claim in the advertisement, “Sriram student secure All India 1st Rank for 12th year in a row!”, was not substantiated adequately and is misleading by ambiguity, as the advertiser does not mention the name of the test/exam in the advertisement, and has not submitted supporting data to prove that the photographs of students shown were actually 1st rankers and were from Sriram Law Academy.

7] Rice Education: The claim in the advertisement, “The Best Training for Govt. Jobs Examination”, is an absolute claim and was not substantiated with supporting comparative data versus other institutes.

8] Adamas Career: The claim in the advertisement, “The Best Choice for Medical and Engineering Entrance Examination”, was not substantiated.

9] Shanti Business School: The claims in the advertisement, “100% Placements (misprinted as 1 0%)” and “Average Package – INR 4.65 LPA” were not substantiated and when read in conjunction, were grossly misleading by implication of availability of higher salary packages.

10] Mewar Classes (Crash Course): The claim in the advertisement, “No. 1 coaching in Bhilwara”, was not substantiated.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) was established in 1985. One of the important functions of ASCI to ensure the protection of the interests of consumers in various categories. ASCI has therefore laid down guidelines with a view to achieve the acceptance of fair advertising practices in the best interests of the ultimate consumer.

The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI deals with complaints received from Consumers and Industry, against Advertisements which are considered as False, Misleading, Indecent, Illegal, leading to Unsafe practices, or Unfair to competition, and consequently in contravention of the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising.

ASCI is also the “Executive Arm” of the Department of Consumer Affairs handling all complaints pertaining to misleading advertisements.

EduLegaL View:

An old marketing strategy saying goes “ Jo Dikhta wahi bikta hai”, it would not be out of place to improvise it to say “Jo Dikhaya Jata hai, wahi bikta hai”.

Coaching Classes and Institutions have overgrown in India due to huge peer pressure and parental aspirations. It is one of the biggest sector, but still unregulated in majority part of the Country. It is high time that this sector is regulated.

Advertisements surprisingly have become one of most important medium to attract students recently amongst educational institutions. Advertisements play a big role in deciding an Institution and it is required that it should be a responsible step devoid of inducements and falsehoods.

But my issue is, what next, what is the action that will be taken against these coaching institutions, who have indulged in misleading publications and advertisements and what about the students who found themselves on the wrong side relying upon the advertisements.

There is no effective legislation in place, which deals with these situations. MHRD look into the matter and bring effective legislation to ban such ads and take effective actions against the Institutions.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

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