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UK ISP BT Adverts Banned for Misleading FREE YouView TV Box Offer

Wednesday, Jun 12th, 2013 (7:38 am) - Score 915

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an email, television and press advert for BT’s broadband and TV bundles after several recipients complained that they misleadingly promoted the offer of a “FREEYouView (IPTV) set-top-box worth £299. Crucially though a £49 activation charge applied.

BT countered that it had made all the necessary charges clear in its adverts and that the £49 activation fee applied to the BT TV service, rather than to the YouView box itself (nice try). It also noted that new customers did not have to take the YouView box if they didn’t want it.

However the writing has been on the wall for offers like this since the ASA banned a similar advert from TalkTalk in April 2013 for attempting to promote a “free” YouView box alongside a £50 install fee (here), which incidentally was later removed and is now considered free again.

ASA Ruling (Ref: A12-215481)

Because at the time the ads were seen (and for a period of months thereafter) the total price consumers would pay was dependent upon whether they accepted the “free” YouView box, and because the additional fee due by those who accepted the YouView box was paid directly to BT, we considered that the activation fee was in effect linked to the YouView box and we concluded that the claim that the box was “free” was misleading.

BT intended that fee to be paid by all customers who took a BT TV service but in practice it had been applied only to those who accepted the “free” YouView box. We therefore considered that the activation fee did in effect offset the cost of the box, and that the claim that the box was “free” was misleading.

As usual the ASA banned the adverts and told BT to state that customers who subscribed to any “combination of their calls, broadband and TV packages would receive a “free” YouView box if there was in effect an additional cost payable to BT by those who took the box”.

BT still charges a £49 activation fee for its TV service but this is no longer promoted as “free” and their websites package details have now been largely hidden away behind an availability checker, which makes it a little trickier to see what’s on offer.

Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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