Free is a big word that draws many eyes to advertising material, but BT Retail has got into trouble for using it in a number of national press adverts. The ASA in its usual Wednesday announcements has published its adjudication on a complaint raised by Carphone Warehouse about three BT Total Broadband adverts in the national press. Read the adjudication for yourself in full at www.asa.org.uk.
The ruling seems to revolve around whether the 18 month contract option on the Total Broadband service makes it a new product. The 12 month option still exists, and the ASA felt that the longer contract option was more onerous on the consumer, and thus a new package. Since it is a new package they cannot call the Internet calls free. The word 'free' is only allowed to be used when something is added at no cost to an existing product. In the future we are likely to start seeing more use of the words 'inclusive' or 'bundled' in BT Retail advertising.
There is some irony in the fact that Carphone Warehouse were the subject of an adjudication back in July 2006. This suggests that competitors in the retail sector of broadband are keeping a close eye on each other, hopefully not so close that they forget about keeping their service running!
The ASA is a useful resource for consumers who feel that advertising in the national press or on TV/radio and even on websites is inaccurate. We should point out that the ASA does not adjudicate about marketing material on a providers own website. Alas many people never bother to file a complaint, which is perhaps why this adjudication only had one complainant. Complaints can filed online, visit http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/how_to_complain/ for more information.
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