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Three UK Mobile Ad Banned for Misleading Data Roaming Claim

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 (7:23 am) - Score 1,323
three uk mobile broadband

Mobile operator Three UK has had one of its website adverts banned for “misleadingly” claiming that customers could “Roam the world in 71 destinations at no extra cost,” which is despite still imposing a “fair use limit” of 12-13GB on Mobile Broadband (3G, 4G) data usage.

At present citizens of the EU benefit from free mobile roaming via the “Roam Like At Home” regulation. As such anybody choosing to use their Mobile (SIM) to make calls, text or use 3G / 4G data while roaming around the EU should be able to do so for the same price as they pay their UK operator (i.e. no extra roaming charges), but to prevent abuse there are still some caveats for mobile data usage above a certain level.

By contrast the main thrust of Three UK’s advert concluded by saying that customers could “Keep data roaming on and use your data, and call and text back to the UK, just like you do at home.” One complainant promptly pointed out that the operator did in fact apply an upper data allowance limit of 13GB on their Pay Monthly contract (12GB when on a pay-as-you-go tariff).

At this point Three UK’s defence was to remark that the fair use limit, which “very few” ever breached, was set “far in excess of their average customer data usage on holiday” (approximately 0.75GB per month in a Go Roam destination) and also over six times the average monthly data used per customer in the UK, calculated by Ofcom at 1.9GB per month. But the ASA was having none of it.

ASA Ruling (REF: A18-445068)

We acknowledged Three’s comments regarding the application of a fair use limit and noted that the “What’s not included” section on the landing page stated, “If you have a data allowance of 12GB or more, you can use up to a fair use limit of 13GB of your data allowance (or 12GB if you’re on Pay As You Go) at no extra cost”, and that further information on the costs associated with the service were also detailed on the support page and in Three’s pricing guides.

However, we did not consider that this information was sufficiently prominent to alter the impression that Three customers would incur no additional charges when using their data allowance abroad. Therefore, because for some customers there was an extra cost associated with the service, which was not made sufficiently clear in the ad, we considered that the claim “at no extra cost” was likely to mislead.

As usual the advert was banned from using the claim of “at no extra cost.”

Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Avatar TheMatt

    It should say at whopping 3G speeds too… only o2 and three use 3G roaming. Everyone elses uses 4G.
    They might as well not offer it since I found it useless in Sweden, Germany, Netherland, Poland … so useless I bought local SIMs

    Woohoo free roaming… at 1 kilobyte per second…

    • Avatar Kevin

      There was no point in offering 4G, as they throttled it to death! If you used any other provider on 3G, you would have found the experience far superior compared to what 3 offered.

      I believe they’ve been told they can’t do this anymore, so should be far better in EU countries. Also they can no longer block tethering…

    • Avatar Onephat

      Agree totally with you it was shocking the one time I tried it in France. I’m in the Netherlands at the moment with EE and it’s much better.

    • Avatar Muhammad

      False

      was in the usa for 3 months

      had LTE-A the whole time

      nice headcannon though LMAO

  2. Avatar Chris P

    Seems perfectly fair to me.

    I guess after 12/13gb you phone up and pay more.

    At least it stops bill shock.

    If the ASA choose to be literal on this maybe they can be literal on terms like unlimited, Fibre, fully comprehensive (thinking Insurrance where your premium goes up if some crashes into you and their insurance fixes your car and you’ve never claimed).

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