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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Vodafone advert 'misleading' on free phone offer

Published 06/08/2014 | 02:30

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Vodafone has been criticised by the advertising watchdog
Vodafone has been criticised by the advertising watchdog

Vodafone has been warned it must make it much clearer to customers that signing up for a free phone locks them into a lengthy contract.

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The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) upheld a complaint that Vodafone's website was misleading because it failed to make the terms and conditions of an offer clearly available to consumers.

A customer complained that he was unaware when he signed up for a Vodafone Red price plan advertised on its website that the "new phone every year" offered would automatically result in a further 24-month contract.

Vodafone said that the advertisement highlighted that terms and conditions applied, including the requirement to enter a new 24-month contract when you got a new phone.

But the ASAI found that it was difficult to find those terms and conditions online.

And while it was acceptable to provide terms and conditions on a different web page to the original offer, "it was likely to mislead consumers when the link to the terms and conditions was not immediately apparent".

It told Vodafone to amend its advertising so that consumers were made aware of and could access all the terms and conditions applying to offers.

The advertising watchdog also upheld a complaint against an online dating agency for claiming membership was free but failing to prove this was the case.

A customer of anotherfriend.com, which claims to be "Ireland's leading online dating service", said he had signed up for free standard membership, which allowed people to put their profile online, search for dates and send messages to other users for free.

However, it was his experience after a short period of time that membership was suspended and he was required to pay and upgrade to continue using the site. It was also difficult to cancel membership.

Anotherfriend.com said that free members were not permitted to exchange contact details with other members and had their membership suspended if they did, while customers could cancel their contract by email with three days' notice.

However, the ASAI said it was disappointing that the dating agency failed to respond to further queries and upheld the complaint, saying it had failed to prove members could avail of a free service.

SuperValu also got rapped over a misleading ad claiming wine was on sale at half price, even though it was actually selling for just 1c less than it had been previously.

An eagle-eyed customer had a receipt to show that the Excellence Saint Chinian wine included in a half-price French wine sale at €8.49 had actually been selling four months earlier at €8.50.

Musgrave Group, which owns the SuperValu brand, said it would like to apologise to the customer for the mix-up.

It said the policy was to establish a price for at least 28 successive days in the three months prior to claiming something was half price, but there had been a mix-up between its trading and marketing departments in this case, though it was actually at half the supplier's recommended price.

Irish Independent

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