My complaint to the ASA against a misleading e-tolling advert (open letter)

TO: [email protected] SUBJECT: SANRAL ETC / E-tolling campaign (radio)

Dear sirs / madams,

My name is Alistair Fairweather. I am a private citizen with no connection to South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL), Electronic Toll Collections (ETC) or their competitors. My ID number is xxxxxxxxxx. My email address is xxxxxxxxx and my phone number is xxxxxxx. On Friday 27 September, at around 7AM, 5FM flighted a radio advert for Gauteng's E-Tolling system. The advert consisted of two men discussing the e-tolling system that is due to come into effect on some of Gauteng's freeways in the next few months. During this simulated discussion one of the men claimed that the e-tolls would "increase my business by 20%" because of reduced congestion on the roads. That claim is completely unsubstantiated and extremely dubious. It seems extremely unlikely that any business - even a courier or transport business - would receive an unambiguous 20% benefit directly from these freeways. In any case, the freeways in question have already been constructed, so the commencement of e-tolls (as compared to a fuel levy or another alternative method of funding) will have no material affect on congestion. I am not in the habit of being a mother grundy. This is my first and will probably be my last complaint to the ASA, but this advert was too blatantly wrong for me to simply ignore. If a washing powder claimed to make my clothes 20% cleaner, I would laugh it off as harmless hyperbole, but the e-tolls system will have a material economic effect on the lives of millions of people. Therefore I submit that SANRAL / ETC must not be allowed to make misleading and unverifiable claims about the benefits of this system. Please acknowledge receipt of this complaint via emailing. Sincerely, Alistair Fairweather Johannesburg, South Africa