The Advertising Standards Authority has found that the SA National Roads Agency misled the public with adverts citing the number of e-tags registered, and failed to substantiate how it calculated discounts that motorists would enjoy monthly after registering.
The agency was ordered to withdraw the statistics quoted in the commercials.
Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance spokesman John Clarke said yesterday that the ruling showed that the agency lacked transparency and "cannot be trusted".
"We regard this as a serious matter, involving as it does a state-owned institution.
"Sanral is not simply purveying propaganda but using taxpayers' money to broadcast factually incorrect information," said Clarke.
In one case heard by the Advertising Standards Authority, Outa and motorist Sheleen Long complained about a Sanral radio commercial that thanked "... the people and organisations that have taken up 1.2 million e-tags for Gauteng e-roads..."
The complainants said that there had been several requests for Sanral to prove that 1.2 million e-tags had been bought but the agency had failed to do so.
The advertising authority ruled that Sanral had failed to substantiate its claims and that the adverts were "misleading".
Not much change out of R5,400 a year
In another case, a motorist complained about the way in which Sanral promoted its e-tags.
In its radio and print advertisements, Sanral said it tracked about 2.5 million vehicles and calculated that, if the vehicles had been fitted with e-tags, 82.83% of the drivers would pay less than R100 a month.
Only 0.63% of motorists would pay between R401 and the maximum of R450.
Using figures obtained from the Gautrain website, the complainant contended that most of the more than 300,000 motorists who commute between Pretoria and Johannesburg would pass six gantries a day, resulting in their reaching the maximum charge of R450 every month.
The advertising authority ruled that the figures used by Sanral were "unsubstantiated" and thus in breach of the advertising code.
The ruling was made on 30 May and takes effect when received by Sanral.
Sanral spokesman Vusi Mona said: "We are aware of the scrutiny our advertising is exposed to and we continuously strive to provide information which we believe is truthful and accurate.
"Sanral has no intention of misleading the public. We take note of all conditions of the law and will continue to comply [with them]."
Source: The Times
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