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ASA Upholds BT Broadband Complaints

Posted: 01st Nov, 2006 By: MarkJ
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against several national press advertisements for BT's Total Broadband service.

The confusion appears to centre around whether or not BT can call its voice calls element of the promotion "free" given the contract options offered (with one it's free, with another it's not):

Carphone Warehouse Group plc (CW) complained about three national press ads for BT Total Broadband.

a. One ad stated "Total Broadband ... Free UK Evening and Weekend calls over the internet ... BT Broadband from £9.95 for the first 6 months". Small print at the bottom of the ad stated "... 18 month term ... New customers only ..."

[NOTE: 'b' and 'c' read much the same]

Issue

CW, who believed the internet calls were an inclusive part of new Total Broadband packages offered by BT, thought that the claims "Free UK Evening and Weekend calls over the internet" and "free evening and weekend UK calls" were misleading.

Assessment

We considered that, because ads (a) and (b) were aimed at new customers for the 18-month contract only, it was misleading to describe the calls as free in those ads.

We noted ad (c) advertised both the 12-and 18-month BT Total Broadband packages. We considered that, because they had been added to an existing package at no cost, it was not misleading to describe the internet calls used by subscribers to the 12-month contract as "free". However, because the internet calls could not be described as "free" to potential subscribers to the 18-month contract, we considered that it was misleading to describe the internet calls as free in ad (c).

Unusually for the ASA, the complaint itself is not well explained; it merely states that CW had problems with two specific lines, but not precisely what those problems were. Thankfully you can still get the general jest of things.
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