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ASA UK Ban Misleading Primus Saver Unlimited Broadband Advert

Thursday, August 21st, 2014 (2:37 pm) - Score 549
primus saver uk

Budget ISP Primus Saver (New Call Telecom), which recently scrapped some of their old packages due to low uptake (here and here), has had a website advert for their “Unlimited Broadband for just £2” service banned after one of their customers suffered a mid-contract price rise for both line rental and broadband.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) noted that Primus Saver ran several adverts for the package, with the first being shown in September 2013 and the last on 2nd June 2014. The promotions were almost identical, having been extended several times, and said: “Unlimited Broadband for just £2? Really? … £2.00/month for 6 months + 14.50 line rental … £2 /month for the first 6 months then £4 /month thereafter.”

Suffice to say that one of Primus’s customers was then less than pleased to find that the price they were paying was due to increase, especially while the original price promotions were continuing to run and had already been extended several times.

ASA Ruling (REF: A14-270270)

We noted that Primus Saver publicised the price rise across multiple channels to their customers, and communicated in their correspondence that customers could terminate their contract without penalty. However, we considered that an increase in the monthly price of a contract was material information which was likely to affect a consumer’s transactional decision when choosing between broadband packages, and that it should have been presented clearly within the ads. Because that was not the case, we concluded that the ads were likely to mislead in that respect.

We [also] noted that ad (a) stated, “OFFER ENDS 1 JUNE 2014” and ad (b), which promoted an identical offer, stated, “OFFER ENDS 30 JUNE 2014”. We further noted that the ad had since been amended to display a closing date of 31 July 2014. We considered that consumers who had seen ad (a) were likely to understand that, in order to take advantage of the offer, they would need to take the offer up by the advertised end date of 1 June, after which they would not be able to take up a broadband contract on those terms.

We considered that the closing date of a promotion was significant information for consumers, and that the knowledge that a promotion was about to end might prompt a decision to purchase, which would not have been taken had the closing date not existed. We concluded that the ad was likely to mislead consumers into taking a transactional decision which they would not have taken otherwise, and that the promotion had been administered unfairly.

The ASA has since banned the promotions and advised Primus to ensure that any increases in monthly prices were “communicated prominently in their ads, and to ensure that they did not mislead consumers by stating that a promotion would end on a particular date if that was not the case“.

A number of ISPs sometimes choose to ‘extend’ their broadband promotions and the ASA’s ruling might thus impact their ability to do that.

PS – Sorry we neglected to post this article yesterday, better late than never.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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