The original complaint was filed by Alistair Fairweather, in an open letter posted on his site, in September last year – two months before the e-Toll system even went live. Fairweather’s complaint took issue with a figure mentioned in the radio ad, which has two men talking about the new highways, and one of them claiming that he now makes “20% more per month” due to the improved infrastructure. As such, it falls under the ASA’s code for misleading claims.
SANRAL’s response is that it arrived at the figure mentioned based on research by TomTom. The Dutch company, specialising in traffic data and navigation, has large amounts of data on the effects of traffic flow. Some of that data also indicates that travel times around Gauteng have reduced since the highway upgrades were completed.
Using that data, SANRAL says it calculated that a transport business would see increased turnover to the tune of 20 – 25%, though it’s not indicated whether the profits after e-Toll fees would be higher.
Regardless, SANRAL has said that it would reword the advert – a measure the ASA has deemed as appropriate enough to help put distance between speculation and facts.
It’s not the roads agency’s first run-in with disgruntled parties, either. Political group Freedom Front Plus also filed a complaint with the ASA in 2013, claiming that SANRAL’s adverts instilled fear in users should they not comply with the system, and also that SANRAL was at the time advertising a product that was not being legally billed.