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Another Vodafone UK Martin Freeman TV Advert Gets Banned

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 (7:35 am) - Score 2,702
vodafone_30_day_guarantee

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a second Vodafone TV advert featuring actor Martin Freeman, which occurred after 11 complainants said the promotion “misleadingly” implied that Mobile customers could leave their contract at any time. Instead they could only do so within the first 30 days of service.

The move comes after another Vodafone TV advert featuring the same popular actor was banned last month over a misleading promotion for the operator’s fixed line broadband ISP “Ultimate Speed Guarantee” (here). By comparison this complaint centred on the advert where Freeman is sitting in a car during the pouring rain and then attempts to leave his current network.

At this point Freeman says, “Look, I haven’t got the strength to keep arguing with you, I just … I’m leaving.” The representative then responds, “Sorry sir, you can’t leave, you’re still within your contract, unless you wish to pay a penalty fee?” A voice-over then stated, “Breaking up’s never easy, but unlike other networks, Vodafone has a 30-day Service Guarantee, so if you don’t love us, you can leave us.”

The 30 claim is also supported by on-screen text and the original advert can be found below.

In fairness we didn’t find Vodafone’s advert to be particularly confusing and the 30 day aspect seems to have been quite clear, although the ASA took a stricter line and upheld the complaints.

ASA Statement (Complaint Ref: A18-457519)

We considered the ad left it ambiguous as to when it applied, and because of the scenario presented, suggested consumers were entitled to exercise the guarantee at any time. We understood that it in fact acted as a 30-day cooling-off period, whereby consumers were able to leave the service within the first 30 days of the contract. After that point, consumers would face those same difficulties in trying to leave their contract with Vodafone, and whilst we acknowledged Vodafone’s reference to the small print which referred to the terms and conditions on the website, we did not consider that this altered the impression presented by the ad.

Therefore, because the ad implied that consumers were entitled to exercise the guarantee at any time and that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.

As usual the ASA told Vodafone not to run their advert again without first changing it to “not misleadingly imply that their service guarantees applied at any point during a contract other than the cooling-off period.”

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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8 Responses
  1. Adam

    How on earth is this misleading. They pretty much say that when you join you have a 30 day window to try them out without getting charged a cancellation fee.

    • Chris P

      “They pretty much say that when you join you have a 30 day window to try them out without getting charged a cancellation fee.”

      i didn’t hear that or see that, what i saw was Martin wanting to leave and being told that he’d have to pay a leaving fee and then the VF stuff about a 30 day guarantee within which you could leave without penalty. I took that to mean that guarantee could be invoked at anytime permitting people to leave penalty free unlike the situation Martin portrayed in the ad.

      AFAICR all networks permit you to leave within a few weeks penalty free. I’m still surprised that VF deliberately and blatantly confused people in this way, i knew they where bad, just not that bad.

  2. wirelesspacman

    I’m with the ASA on this one.

    For Vodafone to make such a fuss about it, the voice over could have been explicit that it only applied to the first 30 days and not to the whole (2 year) contract. After all, 30 days is only around 4% of the total contract period (24 months generally), and so for 96% of the time you are not covered by the g’tee.

  3. Brian Storey

    It’s all nit picking really. I actually liked the advert.

    When did our responsibly for reading terms and conditions and for making contractual agreements become down to someone else?

  4. GNewton

    This is the same ASA which must be sorted out first, such as its “fibre broadband” fiasco.

    • S Wakeman

      So you mean to say that before you accept the ASA’s ruling on anything else, whether right or wrong, it has to sort out a very long winded and complicated case first?

      If every system worked like that then I guarantee that the world would come to a standstill.

  5. S Wakeman

    With that ASA. “Look, I haven’t got the strength to keep arguing with you” is the line. If you’ve kept arguing with them in just the first 30 days of a contract then something is very very wrong.

    It gives the impression of a customer who has been unhappy with the service for a long time and has lost the will to continue. That would not be expected in the the initial 30 days of a contract, so in my opinion it is misleading.

    • Groucho

      And if you have ever tried to sort out a problem with Vodafone, there is a good chance you will lose the will to live! My daughter received another letter yesterday, from a debt collection agency. and all because we found it impossible to deal with Vodafone. I don’t think they have an accounts department, like any normal firm. They pass you around on the phone until you give up, then give your account to a debt collector. Our problem goes back at least three years. Unbelieveable.

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