ASA rule against Vodafone on femtocell/Sure Signal advert
The ASA have ruled that Vodafone can not run a poster advert for their Sure Signal femtocell device in its current form following numerous complaints from T-Mobile, O2 and other complainants. The femtocell device, marketed as Vodafone Sure Signal, connects to a home broadband connection and uses this to allow users to make phone calls via their mobile phone as if they were using the Vodafone's mobile network. It requires a minimum broadband speed of 1Mbps and a 3G mobile phone and should allow users to ensure they can receive a mobile signal if they could not get one before.
Various complaints were raised including:
- the ad was misleading because it did not make clear that broadband and a 3G handset were required
- the claim "can guarantee mobile signal" was challenged as to whether it could be substantiated
- the ad implied Vodafone were superior to other networks and were capable of guaranteeing coverage to all customers
- the ad was misleading because the product was not available for use on cable broadband
- the ad was misleading because it did not make clear that additional payment was required for the service
- the ad did not make it clear that the device could only be used by 4 people at the same time
- the claim "Only Vodafone can guarantee mobile signal in your home" was challenged as other providers offered femtocell and signal boosting technology
In the ASA's assessment, they ruled against Vodafone in 4 of these 7 complaints:
- Upheld. Although the ad directed users to the Vodafone website, it was deemed likely to mislead users by the omission that a 3G handset and broadband were required.
- Upheld. Vodafone provided a response stating that the device would work with a broadband speed of only 64Kbps, however the ASA felt that because Vodafone did not control the availability or performance of the broadband connection, they could not guarantee that a signal would be received, and therefore the guarantee was likely to mislead.
- Upheld. Users unfamiliar with the Vodafone Sure Signal product or similar devices may infer from the advert that Vodafone were making a "general superiority claim" about their network and it was not clear that Vodafone were infact promoting a new product.
- Not upheld. The device will work with a cable broadband connection.
- Upheld. As it was not clear that Vodafone were advertising a new product, users might feel this was an inclusive feature of the Vodafone network rather than a paid for product, and therefore the lack of pricing information was likely to mislead.
- Not upheld. The advert didn't make claims that it could function with multiple users or exaggerate its capability to this.
- Not upheld. No other femtocell service was commercially available in the UK so this was unlikely to mislead.
Vodafone would need to add relevant details to future adverts for this product as detailed by the ruling to ensure they meet the ASA's guidelines.