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ASA Bans VOXI UK Mobile Advert for Misleading Price Claims

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021 (7:33 am) - Score 1,632
voxi

A complaint by rival UK mobile operator giffgaff has resulted in the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banning a website ad for VOXI – the MVNO sub-brand for Vodafone – over “misleading” price claims, which centres around the way they advertised their 12GB data (mobile broadband) plan for £10 per month.

The website ad for VOXI’s service, as seen on 30th April 2021, advertised a 12GB data plan for £10 per month – with the data allowance figure of “8GB” crossed through and text stating “EXTRA DATA“. But giffgaff, which is a virtual operator on O2’s (VMO2) platform, complained the ad was misleading because they “believed that 8GB for £10 per month had not been sufficiently established as the usual selling price.”

Voxi countered that the offer reflected the launch of a new plan. “They said that, to reduce potential consumer confusion, Voxi kept the previous plan at its reference price, 6GB for £10 per month, for 63 days before the launch of the new one,” noted the ASA. But the promotion suggested that 8GB was the usual data allowance, with 12GB representing an advantage for no extra cost.

However, the ASA found that Voxi’s plan had a lot of historic variations and 8GB could thus not be considered as the usual data allowance for £10.

ASA Ruling (REF: A21-1111147 Vodafone Ltd)

Turning therefore to the pricing history for the plan that had been running up to that point and which Vodafone had supplied, we saw that the plan had moved regularly between being on promotion at 12GB (on one occasion, 8GB) for £10 per month, and not being on promotion (6GB for £10 per month) during the period for which Vodafone had supplied figures. When the plan moved to being on promotion, the number of days for which it was on promotion tended to be greater than the number of days for which it was not on promotion (70, 56 and 66 days on promotion compared with 57, 70, 53 and 63 days not on promotion). We considered Vodafone had not established 8GB or 6GB for £10 per month in the previous plan.

We acknowledged that, after the launch of the new plan, Voxi subsequently reduced the amount of data to 8GB per month for £10 after the introductory offer ended. However, there was nothing in the ad to explain what the savings claim was based on or to say the offer was an introductory one.

We considered ads needed to make clear to consumers if a savings claim was being made against a future price. Because the ad did not make clear that the savings claim was being made against a future price, and because Vodafone had not established that 8GB was the usual data allowance for the equivalent previous plan, we concluded that the claim had not been substantiated and that the ad was misleading.

As usual the ASA banned the advert in its current form and told Voxi to “ensure that introductory offers were clearly marked as such.” The ruling may seem fairly unimportant, but we do see quite a lot of broadband ISPs and mobile operators playing a similar game of musical chairs with their weekly price promotions (i.e. it becomes very difficult to know what a package’s true baseline actually is as they’re always on differing ‘offers’).

In an ideal world this ruling might thus discourage such promotions from making misleading claims, but since the ASA rarely uses its powers to punish companies – beyond the approach of encouraging some forgettable bad publicity – then it probably won’t have much long-term impact.

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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.
Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Carl O says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous and petty.

    Giffgaff are just annoyed because they more likely lost loads of customers the day voxi launched wifi calling and 4G calling.

    1. Gregowski says:

      And i was only connected to 1 band while on giffgaff 5G plan with average speed of 3mb more or less,

      Now geting 140mb (during the day) on Voxi from exact same mast, and connected to 4 bands (20, 32, 1 and 7) and have seen band 8 too 😉

  2. SM says:

    I find Voxi’s pricing much easier to understand than Giffgaff.

    Giffgaff:

    £20 Goodybag 80GB data

    £20 Golden Goodybag 100GB data

    (why would you use the non-golden one?)

    £25 Goodybag ‘always on data’ with “After 80 GB of data used you’ll experience a reduced data speed of 384kbps from 8am to Midnight”

    £35 Golden Goodybag ‘unlimited data’ which has a Fair Use Policy which makes it quite clear it isn’t actually ‘unlimited’ and has various things that they will consider it “unreasonably large amounts”, including the number of devices you tether not just the GB of data used.

    Feel their real complaint about Voxi was just that they are a direct competitor and occasionally can’t be as competitive and have to keep changing the Giffgaff packages to compete (see news stories on here of late-June and late-September of this year for examples of Giffgaff’s incrased package allowances as an example – they appear to be in line with Voxi’s levels…)

  3. Nigel Jones says:

    It seems quite petty indeed. Meanwhile (ok, unreleated) the ASA let Toyota sell ‘self-charging hybrids’. Go figure…

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