A database that tracks dubious medical claims.
Response number: 98
Date of response: May 8, 2012
Type of response: ASA Directorate Ruling
The claims are in breach of previous rulings for this device which stated they must be withdrawn and not used again.
Claims dealt with in this response
Rayma Balance Bracelet / DL Whitehead / 8621
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Prof L David Whitehead Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Topline Innovations Mail Order cc Respondent
In a ruling dated 8 June 2007, the Directorate ruled that the respondent's
advertising for Rayma Balance Bracelet created a misleading impression that
the bracelet will relieve pain when used by anybody, which was not proven
and therefore unsubstantiated.
The advertisement made the following claims:
"PAIN? Guaranteed relief or your money back!"
"Do you suffer from arthritis, trigeminal neuralgia, high blood pressure,
poor circulation, rheumatism, headaches, migraine, gout, fibrositis,
shoulder stiffness or backache?"
"Rayma Balance Bracelet Natural Pain relief: It's not Copper; nor is it
The respondent was instructed to remove the offending claims within the
deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide.
On 10 September 2007, the respondent was found in breach of the above
ruling, but no sanctions were imposed at that time.
On 14 August 2009 the respondent was again found to be in breach of 8 June
2007 Directorate ruling. Both the complainant to the breach complaint and
the respondent were given an opportunity to comment on whether or not
sanctions were appropriate, and if so, which sanction.
On 15 September 2009 the Directorate imposed a sanction in terms of Clause
14.2 of the Procedural Guide in which the respondent was ordered to submit
the proposed amendment, original advertisement and all previous ASA rulings
to the ACA Advisory Service for pre-publication advice. It was a once-off
An Ad Alert was issued to the ASA members not to accept any Rayma Balance
Bracelet advertising unless it is accompanied by confirmation from the ACA
Advisory Services that it may be placed.
On 8 December 2009 the Directorate rejected the respondent's new
substantiation on the basis that the documentary submissions were not
relevant to the claims and therefore not an unequivocal verification of the
claims in question. The Directorate pointed out that the ruling of 8 June
2007 remained binding and the respondent may not use the claims in question.
SUBSEQUENT TO THE RULING
In a letter dated 14 March 2012, a complainant not party to the original
dispute, Dr Steinman, lodged a breach complaint regarding the respondent's
print advertisement for Rayma Balance Bracelet that appeared in the Beeld
newspaper as well as the advertising appearing on the respondent's website
In essence, the breach allegation submitted that the newspaper advertisement
again claims to offer relief from, inter alia, pain, arthritis, trigeminal
neuralgia, high blood pressure, poor circulation, rheumatism, headaches,
migraine, gout, fibrositis, shoulder stiffness and backache. These are the
very claims previously ruled against.
The copy of the advertisement asks (in Afrikaans) whether the reader is
suffering from pain, or the above-mentioned conditions, and then presents
the bracelet as the solution.
In addition, the breach allegation argued that the respondent's website
(which carries very much the same claims) is also in breach of the original
rulings, warranting the severest sanctions to be instituted, as well as an
RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the breach allegation the Directorate considered Clause 15 of
the Procedural Guide (Enforcement of rulings) as relevant.
Mr Mervyn Daitz of Topline Innovations initially responded and expressed his
surprise to receive a letter from the ASA. It was further alleged that Beeld
placed the incorrect advertisement in error.
When the Directorate (at its discretion) afforded the respondent opportunity
to address the merits insofar as its website was concerned, attorneys J H
Nicolson Stiller & Geshen, on behalf of the respondent, questioned the ASA's
jurisdiction in respect to website material, arguing that the Code expects
members to comply, and it was not a member. It added that it does not view
the website as "advertising" as contemplated in the Code.
ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by
the respective parties.
It cannot be disputed that the ASA is only empowered to consider and rule on
allegations that any disputed advertising contravenes the provisions of the
Code of Advertising Practice. This is echoed not only in various rulings
over the years, but also in the Code itself.
Clause 2.1 of Section I states, inter alia, that "The primary objective of
this Code is the regulation of commercial advertising. It applies therefore
(except as expressly provided further on) to all advertisements for the
supply of goods or services or the provision of facilities by way of trade
In Pretoria Civil Action & Another / City of Tshwane Metropolitan
Municipality (15 November 2005), the Final Appeal Committee (the FAC) also
emphasised the fact that the ASA is obliged to and entitled to rule on
advertising complained of even if the advertiser does not concede to the
ASA's jurisdiction. It held:
"Even if the appellant had not appeared, after giving it an opportunity to
do so, the ASA, at the request of a consumer, with due notice to the
appellant could make a ruling binding on its members. The members in
adhering to the ASA's ruling would not be violating any protectable legal
right of the appellant and would not commit an unlawful act. Nor would the
ASA be doing so in making the ruling and nor would the consumer in asking
for such a ruling. Vide Tothill vs. Gordon, 1930 WLD 99 and the ruling of
this committee in National Brands Limited vs. Kwality Biscuits (Pty) Ltd".
While the respondent may, or may not, have advertising agents that belong to
a constituent member of the ASA, it may well choose to utilise a member of
the ASA to carry its advertising (and has in fact done so when advertising
in Beeld newspaper, as the original complaint also related to a newspaper
advertisement (Cape Times on 14 February 2007)). If this were to happen,
such members, and indirectly, the respondent, would be bound by all relevant
rulings. It is also clear that the ASA is required to consider all "valid"
complaints. The complaint currently at issue complied with the provisions of
the Code and is therefore regarded as valid.
In addition, the ASA has often ruled on advertising content on websites.
While true that not everything that appears on a website falls within the
definition of an "advertisement" as contained in the Code, material that is
clearly intended to persuade the reader to purchase a specific product or
service, or support a particular cause may well be (refer Standard Bank
Internet Banking / M Lurie / 19468 (16 March 2012) and SAA Airport Taxes / B
Phillips / 7144 (15 November 2006) for examples).
The respondent's website is phrased and presented in a manner similar to the
advertisement in Beeld. In addition to presenting the novelty of the
product, its claimed uses and various testimonials, readers are able
encouraged to "Order Now".
The respondent's argument that it is not subject to the ASA's jurisdiction
is therefore rejected, and the Directorate is satisfied that it is entitled
to consider both print and online material in dealing with the breach
Clause 15.1 of the Procedural Guide states that "The responsibility for
adherence to a ruling made by the Directorate or the ASA Committees lies
with the person against whom such ruling has been made". In addition, Clause
15.5 of the Procedural Guide specifically requires offending advertising to
be removed from any media where it appears.
The essential question before the Directorate is whether or not the
respondent's internet and print advertisements are in breach of the original
ruling. For this to be the case, the respondent would have to be making the
same, or materially similar claims to those originally complained against.
There can be no argument that the website is making the same claims as
previously ruled against. The website states, inter alia, as follows:
"Over 14 million people worldwide have used the award-winning RAYMAR Balance
Bracelet to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis,
trigeminal neuralgia, high blood pressure, poor circulation, rheumatism,
headaches, migraines, gout, fibrositis, shoulder stiffness and backache.
Unlike most conventional pain relief options that carry the risk of
side-effects and limit dosage, the RAYMAR Balance Bracelet is drug-free, has
no side-effects, and will keep working as long as you wear it. Whats more,
the results are often even more dramatic and longer-lasting than many
conventional pain relief remedies. A significant improvement is normally
felt within the first 12 hours of wearing the bracelet and, whereas other
remedies will wear off, the RAYMAR. Balance Bracelet provides relief from
pain, stiffness and discomfort in the long-term".
Given this, the Directorate is satisfied that the respondent is in breach of
the previous rulings insofar as its website advertising is concerned.
This aspect of the breach allegation is upheld.
Insofar as the advertisement in Beeld is concerned, the respondent has
alleged that the incorrect advertisement was used by Beeld.
In an effort to obtain clarity on this, the Directorate contacted Beeld to
ascertain whether this was indeed the case. According to the Senior
Advertising Manager for Beeld confirmed that "... the correct material was
used by Beeld".
The respondent was notified accordingly, and offered an opportunity to
comment on the issue. The attorneys acting for the respondent submitted as
"We are instructed that our client submitted the attached ASA approved
advert to Media 24 in December 2009 and that Die Beeld used the incorrect
advertisement, presumably on account of a misunderstanding".
The Directorate went back to Beeld in light of this submission. In return,
Beeld submitted a signed booking form with the respondent's account number,
contact person and the address. It explained that the respondent instructed
it to use an advertisement that appeared in the "My Tyd" insert during
January, and to resize it (i.e. copy remained the same). It further
submitted that if it had placed the incorrect advertisement the client would
have requested a credit or refused to pay the account. No credit was passed
on the account and it was paid in full. A copy of the "My Tyd" advertisement
was submitted along with this response.
It would appear that, on a balance of probabilities, the respondent has
deliberately asked for an advertisement to be placed despite having received
adverse rulings (and a sanction) against the claims made in that
The Directorate is therefore satisfied that the respondent is in breach of
the 8 June 2007, and therefore in contravention of Clause 15 of the
Tracing the history of disputes in relation to this specific advertiser, the
Directorate notes that the claims currently in use on its website and in the
print advertisement that gave rise to the breach allegation are virtually
identical. The fact that the respondent has apparently refused to amend its
website shows that it has no intention of complying unless forced to do so
(as was the case when the pre-clearance sanction was imposed during
While not necessarily material, the Directorate also notes that the
advertisement that the respondent appears to have placed in the "My Tyd"
insert during January 2012 also contains the same claims as previously ruled
In light of this, the consumer who brought the breach allegation to the
ASA's attention (Dr Steinman) is afforded ten working days to comment on
whether or not sanctions are appropriate at this time, and if so, which
sanctions in accordance with Clause 14 of the Procedural Guide. After this,
the respondent will be afforded an equal opportunity to address this issue,
following which the Directorate will consider whether or not sanctions are
warranted and if so which sanctions in terms of Clause 14 of the Procedural
The breach allegation is upheld, and the issue of sanctions will be
finalised once the parties have had an opportunity to address the
Directorate in that regard.