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ASA Ban 1pMobile Adverts for Misleading “UK’s cheapest pre-pay tariff” Claim

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017 (8:32 am) - Score 2,187
1pmobile_tariff

Mobile operator 1pMobile (MVNO) has had a Website and Facebook advert for their service banned by the Advertising Standards Authority after they failed to prove that their service was really the “UK’s cheapest pre-pay tariff” or the “most flexible“.

The operator offers a tariff of 1p per minute to UK landlines and mobiles, 1p per text to UK mobiles, 1p per MB of data and on top of that their “flexible” claim was based on a £5 top-up, which could be used for all calls, texts and data, compared with their competitors who specified a cap on each of those features (NOTE: 1p’s website currently states that those who join need to pay an initial £10 top-up).

However the ASA noted that a comparison site provided by 1pMobile was not good enough to prove the operator’s claim because the ASA “could not verify the price comparisons at the time the ad was seen” (January 2017) and they also found some other problems with the promotions.

ASA Ruling (REF: A17-369177)

We noted 1pMobile’s assertion that they described their tariff as “flexible” because unlike them, their competitors specified a cap for each £5 top-up. However, we did not consider that this was clear from ad (b) which would have different meanings among consumers. Nevertheless, we considered that most consumers would understand that a top-up would last for one month unless otherwise stated.

Furthermore, we understood that consumers were likely to select a tariff which closely met their mobile usage requirements – for example, a higher or cheaper text message allowance over calls or data if that was their preferred method of communication. With that in mind, we understood that other mobile phone PAYG providers offered a £10 top-up which although their call minutes and data were capped, the text allowance was unlimited. Therefore, on a pro-rata basis those providers could be cheaper than 1pMobile depending on how the allowances were used.

Because 1pMobile had not provided adequate evidence to support their claims to be the cheapest mobile service and that other providers were cheaper on a pro-rata basis, we concluded the ad was misleading and had not been substantiated.

As usual the ASA told 1pMobile to stop claiming that they were the UK’s cheapest pre-pay mobile service or had the cheapest tariff, unless it could be substantiated. However a quick glance at the operator’s website today still shows “The UK’s cheapest PAYG tariff” in big bold text on the front page, although we expect they’ll soon be removing that.

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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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3 Responses
  1. To join 1pmobile you must top up £10 and then must top up £10 at least every 120 days. They claim credit never expires (but you must top up or lose credit?). At the minimum, this is £30 every year respectively. That equals £2.50 per month. With 1p for calls, texts, and MB. This is the equivalent of 250 minutes or 250 texts or 250MB Internet per month or a mixture of all three.

    They do not offer bundles, except for data. The following equivalent mobile operators offer a cheap deal but unless you accept a bundle they have more expensive PAYG rates:

    ID Mobile offer a pay as you go tariff at 3p per minute, 2p for texts and 1p per MB. Their cheapest bundle is £5 per month with 125 minutes, 500 texts, and 100MB of data.

    Tesco Mobile offers a pay as you go tariff at 8p per minute, 4p for texts and 10p per MB. They have rocket packs starting at £5 that include 100 minutes, 100 texts and 100MB data.

    Asda Mobile offer a pay as you go tariff at 8p per minute, 4p for texts and 5p per MB. Their cheapest bundle is £5 per month with 125 minutes, 2000 texts, and 200MB of data.

    GiffGaff offers a pay as you go tariff at 15p per minute, 5p for texts and 5p per MB. Their cheapest bundle is £5 per month including 150 minutes, 500 texts, and 150MB of data.

    So, let’s say that most people top-up £5 cash credit a month to 1pmobile. That is the equivalent of 500 minutes or 500 texts or 500MB Internet per month or a mixture of all three. Therefore, other suppliers bundles still offer good value, especially with text messages. So long as a user is using their bundle to the maximum, bundles are the best choice. However, for occasional users, 1pmobile is good value especially when credit is rolled-over since everyone’s voice, text and data usage is different from month to month.

  2. Avatar sentup.custard

    “However, for occasional users, 1pmobile is good value…”
    Not for this occasional user because, as you stated earlier in the message, you “must top up £10 at least every 120 days” so “At the minimum, this is £30 every year”.
    I am on Three’s “3-2-1” PAYG tariff, which has NO periodic top-up requirement – I last did a £10 top-up in April 2016 when I was down to about £1 and currently have about £2 left, so that’s effectively about £9 spent in 14 months, which is less than £8 per year.
    Paying £30 a year instead just to build up a load of credit that I’m never going to use does not strike me as good value at all.

    • Avatar PaulM

      How much do you spend on landline calls per month, what is the line rental cost and what are the call cost per minute?

      If its like many id argue something like this deal and scrapping the landline could actually save a significant amount of cash.

      All that said i can see why the ASA looked at them.

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