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Three UK Advert Banned for Misleading “Lowest Price” Claim

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 (8:37 am) - Score 497

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a banner advert for Three UK’s service after it misleadingly claimed to offer the “UK’s lowest price” on a tariff that bundled in the Samsung Galaxy S6 Smartphone for £35 per month. Except it wasn’t the cheapest.

According to Three UK the offer, which ran from 5th June to 15th July 2015, included 1GB of data with unlimited calls and texts. The operator then claims to have justified the wording by comparing their deal against all of their main competitors (O2, EE, Vodafone, Tesco Mobile and Virgin Media) and the indirect channel via Carphone Warehouse (representing the majority of the market).

However one woman complained that she was able to get a cheaper equivalent deal from both the Carphone Warehouse and another third-party seller. The ASA also found that Three UK had not provided enough information to fully substantiate their claim.

ASA Ruling (REF: A15-307500)

While we noted that the unlinked footnote text referred to particular retailers and to a particular point in time, we noted that it lacked prominence and, nevertheless, we considered that the information was not sufficient to counteract the overall impression that the claim “the UK’s lowest prices” related to all retailers and was accurate at the time the ad was seen.

We noted Three’s assertion that the retailers included in the comparison constituted over 95% of the contract handset market. However, we noted that the independent market share data provided related to all sales achieved across all channels, not solely the named retailers’ direct sales. Therefore, while we acknowledged that the sales data provided was likely to represent a large proportion of the market, it was not possible to determine the exact market share covered in the comparison.

Further, we considered that to substantiate the claim, “the UK’s lowest price”, Three needed to provide comparative sales data covering all mobile retailers across the UK. Therefore, in the absence of that data, we concluded that the claim was misleading.

As usual the ASA told Three UK to stop being a naughty operator and #makeitright by ensuring that the basis of any future comparative claims were both clear and avoided misleading consumers with limited comparisons of the market.

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar tim says:

    Three should have their 4G and 3G license removed as they have been too slow to get good coverage.

    1. Avatar Mike says:

      If you choose to live in the middle of nowhere, that’s the price you pay.

    2. Avatar Vince says:

      What are you on about? Slow to get good coverage?

      They’ve had good coverage for a long time – they are often better than the competition too in quite a few areas since only 3 have bothered with 3G infrastructure in some of the more rural places.

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