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Saturday, October 24, 1998 Published at 23:29 GMT 00:29 UK


Anger over Sony's 'cancer' mailshot

Spoof notes to promote Playstation

A woman waiting to find out if she was free of cancer was sent bogus medical test results by computer games maker Sony.

Now the Advertising Standards Authority has ordered an investigation into the controversial Playstation promotion.

Jeanette Park, who had gone for a scan three days earlier, received a letter marked Test Results.

Mrs Park's husband, Mike: "She was devastated"
She was told that the test showed "the early stages of a progressive condition".

Mrs Park, 37, from Barrow, Cumbria, was advised to have "immediate treatment" in a medical card supposedly signed by a doctor.

The card said: "I am writing as a matter of urgency with your scan results - they reveal early stages of a progressive condition for which I am prescribing immediate treatment.

"These are the latest medical treatments available and the earlier you start the course of therapy, the more likely a full recovery will be," it said.

Fake X-rays

It was only after she had looked at spoof X-rays that she found a price list for Sony Playstation accessories and realised the letter was a promotional package.

Mrs Park's husband, Mike, said she was totally devastated.

He said: "She has been through six months of intensive chemotherapy and didn't know whether she was clear."

Mr Park said the mailshot had been sent to their home after he bought his wife a Playstation to keep her amused while she was in hospital.

'She broke down in tears'

He said: "She was in tears. It came as a bombshell. It is all written with convincing medical expressions and she didn't realise what it was."

Mrs Park's MP John Hutton, said he was "absolutely appalled" at Sony's marketing tactics.

Sony, who have received 53 complaints about the mailshots, have apologised "unreservedly" and withdrawn the offending promotion.

Sony spokeswoman Carey Bayley said: "It was an awful mistake and something we would not consider again. It was never our intention to cause offence and distress."

The Advertising Standards Authority have received 20 telephone complaints, the majority of them from people expecting genuine test results.

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