Eir warned by advertising watchdog over misleading adverts

Consumer complainants objected to Eir quoting three prices for broadband bundles

Between 2015 and 2016 the advertising standards authority upheld 11 complaints against Eir and two against its mobile subsidiary Meteor.

Between 2015 and 2016 the advertising standards authority upheld 11 complaints against Eir and two against its mobile subsidiary Meteor.

 

The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) plans to engage with Ireland’s largest telco Eir to seek improved compliance with its code after two more complaints were upheld against the company recently.

These latest complaints alleged misleading marketing about two offers for Eir’s broadband services that were published on its website. They were made by consumers and by Virgin Media, a rival to Eir. The authority’s findings are due be published in its latest complaints bulletin this week.

Virgin Media objected to an advertisement for Eir’s broadband-only products on the grounds that the webpages were displaying promotional prices for all products, but had not displayed the price the product reverted to after the promotional period expired.

The consumer complainants objected to the fact that Eir had quoted three prices in its ad for broadband bundles. They considered that only two of the prices quoted were relevant and that it had not been made clear by Eir what the cost of the bundle would be after the promotional period.

The authority upheld the complaints, stating that there was no indication in the headline price, or the brief overview, that the advertised cost was an introductory offer for a limited time period. It has required that the advertising not be used in the same format again.

Series of complaints

These are the latest in a list of complaints upheld against Eir in the past couple for years. Data for 2015 and 2016 shows that the authority upheld 11 complaints against Eir and two against its mobile subsidiary Meteor.

The ASAI’s chief executive Orla Twomey told The Irish Times that it would be engaging with Eir to seek improved compliance with its code.

“In recent months, the ASAI has proactively engaged with Eir in relation to a number of advertisements which have contravened the ASAI’s Code of Standards for Marketing and Advertising Communications in Ireland,” she said.

“The ASAI approach is to work in partnership with advertisers, rather than against them, to ultimately ensure that all marketing communications are legal, decent, honest and truthful. The ASAI will be further engaging with the advertiser in question in the coming months to promote improved engagement and compliance with the ASAI code on future Eir campaigns.”

In a statement responding to the ASAI’s findings, Eir said: “At all times of the online purchase, customers can click on [a] ‘see more details’ button at which point they are then clearly shown the promotional price, promotion duration, contract length and the price following the promotion period. We believe this clearly provides all pricing and promotional information on this webpage.

“In addition, on the webpage there is a section called ‘promotions explained’ that highlighted the difference between the online price and the standard Eir price.

“Throughout the entirety of the customer journey on the website and at the checkout, the customer was clearly shown on the left-hand side, the promotional price, the new customer discount, the online discount and the thereafter price. This remains with the customer until they complete their order.”

Complaints against telecoms companies increased from 142 in 2013 to 240 in 2015, according to figures published by the ASAI.

Eir is not the only one to have fallen foul of the ASAI code. In 2015 and 2016, six complaints were upheld against Vodafone, two against both Virgin Media and Three Ireland and one against Carphone Warehouse.

The ASAI said it was “actively engaging” with advertisers of telecommunications services and products to address this increase.

The code contains a provision that the ASAI can seek to have some or all of a company’s proposed advertising submitted for copy advice but it has not enforced this procedure, preferring to seek one-to-one engagement with an advertiser to address its concerns.