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ASA Redefines "Unlimited" Term

Posted: 15th May, 2006 By: MarkJ
ADSLGuide spotted something we missed in last weeks update from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), where a complaint against Vodafone's incorrect use of the term "unlimited" in its marketing was not upheld (here).

The advert is explained as follows:
-----------------------------------
In a table headlined "Price plans" two of the price plans were called "Vodafone Data Unlimited*" and "Vodafone Data Travel" and stated the monthly costs of subscribing to the service. The table stated that the amount of data that could be downloaded for the monthly subscription charge was "Unlimited*."

Both "Vodafone Data Unlimited*" and the "Unlimited*" download claim for each price plan were linked to a footnote that stated "Fair usage of 1GB applies". The complainant challenged the claim "unlimited" because the plans were subject to a 1 GB per month fair use policy.

-----------------------------------

Sounds fairly clear cut, but not according to the ASA:

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They said usage figures indicated that the average amount of data downloaded by users of their Data Unlimited plan was a small fraction of the 1 GB limit and their policy was to ask customers who exceeded the fair usage limit to moderate their usage. Those customers were then monitored and if they continued to exceed the limit their service would be suspended or an extra charge levied. They said only a small number of Vodafone Data Unlimited users had exceeded the limit but, at present, no customers had been charged or had their service suspended.

We noted the limit would only affect atypical users and no users of the Vodafone Data Unlimited plans who had exceeded the limit had been charged or had their service suspended. Because we were satisfied that the policy was fair and it was stated in the ad, we did not object to the claim.

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So there you have it, ISP's are now free to call themselves "unlimited", even when they state a cap 'level', just so long as it's defined as a "Fair Usage" policy in the small print. Thanks ASA! Marketing appears to come before sense.
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