A general record of my ongoing battle with all forms of nonsense.

Monday, 25 April 2011

FishBarrel: Keep what you highlight short & to the point

I’ve been looking through some of the complaints that have gone in via FishBarrel. While I can’t see the background information that people have entered, I can see what was highlighted.

A few of the complaints seem to include really large chunks of highlighted text, which is going to reduce the effectiveness of the complaint and may even mean it gets initially rejected.

Here is an example of some text that was highlighted recently:

Aromatherapy combines massage with the use of therapeutic essential oils which are found naturally in plants. Tricia Swensson The essential oils are applied to the skin and are absorbed into the blood stream which can have a therapeutic effect on the body systems. Aromatherapy massage can help to reduce stress and tension, relieve muscular pain, improve circulation and encourage the removal of toxins from the body. Aromatherapy may help with a wide range of treatments such as: Insomnia Menstruation problems Respiratory conditions Digestive disorders The use of plant extracts for health have been documented for thousands of years, the ancient Egyptians used essential oils for health and beauty and also during embalming. Aromatherapy as we know it was revived when a French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse burnt his hand during an accident; he placed his hand in a bowl which he believed contained water but in fact contained lavender oil he was amazed at how quickly the wound healed leaving no scarring. It is Gattefosse who first coined the phrase `aromatherapie’.

Much of this information is true. The complaint would be far stronger if the specific misleading claims were highlighted individually. Even if there are two sentences with misleading claims next to each other, it’s worth separating them out by highlighting them individually. Here’s how I’d deal with the above text:

#1 Aromatherapy massage can help to reduce stress and tension, relieve muscular pain, improve circulation and encourage the removal of toxins from the body.

#2 Aromatherapy may help with a wide range of treatments such as: Insomnia Menstruation problems Respiratory conditions Digestive disorders

(Note: If the header of your complaint states you’re listing misleading claims, you probably wouldn’t need to enter any background info about the above.)

#3 French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse burnt his hand during an accident; he placed his hand in a bowl which he believed contained water but in fact contained lavender oil he was amazed at how quickly the wound healed leaving no scarring.

For #3's background info, I’d add: “The above text misleadingly implies that aromatherapy is an effective treatment for burns.”

This way it’s clear what you’re complaining about and you’re not asking the ASA to do all of the work for you.

There is one exception I can think of where you might highlight a lot of text and that where the practitioner just lists a large number of diseases that their therapy treats. In this case, highlight the full list.

3 comments:

anzyfanzy said...

Hi just done my first complaint using Fish Barrel very good work.
I will be using the next couple of Bank holidays to tackle more local Woo practitioners.

My personal bete noir is "Sonrise" who offer cures or recovery from autism!
http://www.embrace-autism.org.uk/son.htm
I shall be doing a lot of research before complaining so any one done anything in this particularly nasty Woo?
Keep up good work

James said...

I love this tool, but it won't gather text from this site:
http://www.dulwichtherapyrooms.co.uk/

which has just so many woo claims I am having trouble coping..

Simon said...

@James,

Sorry - that's a Flash site and it only works with HTML I'm afraid. You can take screen grabs though and submit it that way (review complaint will be greyed out, but it will still work).