The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints against Direct Line over its claim to offer an instant-access savings account.
A national press ad was headlined, Direct Line Instant Access Account….Up to 5.75 per cent gross.
But complainants argued that the account was not instant access because investors had to phone Direct Line to have the cash transferred to a bank or building society, which took three working days.
The ASA ruled: "The authority considered that readers would expect to have immediate access to their money instead of having to transfer it to another bank account. Because that was not possible, the authority considered that the extra words 'with instant access' were not acceptable."
It has asked Direct Line to remove the offending words from the ads and include a statement explaining that the account name does not mean that access to funds is instant.
The ruling has sparked fears that advertising of all instant-access accounts will have to be reviewed as many have limitations.
Direct Line Financial Services managing director Stephen Geraghty says: "This ruling means that no acco unts where cheques must be issued or payments made through banking systems can be advertised as offering instant access."
Building Societies Association director general Adrian Coles admits: "It will be confusing for a period of time while we decide how we are going to approach this."