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UK Advertising Watchdog Slams T-Mobile for Truly Unlimited Internet Claim

Posted: 05th Oct, 2011 By: MarkJ
asa ukt-mobile uk mobile broadbandThe UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has taken a leaf out of its new guidelines on the abuse of "unlimited" terminology (here) to uphold nine complaints against several website, press and poster based adverts for T-Mobile UK's mobile broadband service. Each promotion mentioned "truly unlimited internet" access, which was ruled as misleading because "restrictions had been imposed on the plan".

ASA Ruling

The ASA considered that “Truly Unlimited Internet” was a very strong claim, and went beyond a typical “unlimited” internet claim, which we considered consumers understood would be likely to be subject to some limitations such as a FUP.

Although we noted that the plan was not subject to a FUP and that the three exceptions/restrictions were set out in the ads' small print, we considered that, to all intents and purposes, where an ad claimed that a plan was “Truly Unlimited”, exclusions would be contrary to a consumer’s expectations. We therefore considered that the information in the small print contradicted the headline claim “Truly Unlimited”.

Because we considered that exclusions to an internet plan advertised as “Truly Unlimited” would be contrary to consumers’ expectations and because we understood that restrictions had been imposed on the plan, we concluded that the claim was misleading.

The claim breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.9 (Qualification) and 3.11 (Exaggeration).

The move, while respectable from a consumers point of view, could cause some confusion as the ASA's new guidelines still allow ISPs and mobile operators to promote "unlimited" so long as "the customer incurs no additional charge or suspension of service" when they exceed any hidden limits.

Apparently "Truly Unlimited" and "Unlimited" now mean very different things, although crucially the ASA's new rules will not actually come into full effect until 1st April 2012.
Full ASA Ruling
http://www.asa.org.uk/ASA-action/Adjudications/2011/10/Everything-Everywhere-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_166250.aspx
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