Watchdog finds against mobile phone firms over adverts

02, Vodafone, Meteor and Carphone Warehouse feature in ASAI quarterly report

The Carphone Warehouse was among the companies named in the latest ASAI report. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The Carphone Warehouse was among the companies named in the latest ASAI report. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Conor Pope, Consumer Affairs Correspondent

Three of the State’s leading mobile phone providers and a leading mobile phone retailer have all had their knuckles rapped by the standards watching over ads which it found to be misleading.

Vodafone, O2, Meteor and the Carphone Warehouse all fell foul of the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) which published its quarterly bulletin yesterday.

One complaint focused on a Meteor campaign which promised would-be customers “at least €20 of all pay-as-you-go smartphones”.

The ad stressed that it was “every single one”. But it wasn’t, as iPhones were excluded from the offer.

In its defence, Meteor said it had not featured any iPhones in the ad and had carried some onscreen text which had said “Excludes pay as you go iPhones”.

The authority ruled against Meteor and said it was “not acceptable to publish offers which suggested that all stock was subject to a particular reduction or on sale while providing for exclusions in the small print”.

A Vodafone campaign which offered roaming across the EU for a fee of “just €2 a day” was found to be in breach because a complainant signed up for the service and was charged additional charges on top of the €2 daily rate

In its defence Vodafone said that included among the offer’s terms and conditions was a clause which said the charge was €2 per day including VAT plus the domestic daily service charge for mobile internet service.

The ASAI ruled however that the phrase “for just €2 a day” had exaggerated the benefit of the offer as the price advertised did not apply to all customers.

A billboard ad for O2 which promised “unlimited calls or loads of data” for pay-as-you-go customers for €10 fell foul of the authority because a minimum top-up of €20 applied.

The company defended the ad saying that the details were contained in a smaller print but the ASAI said it did not believe the footnote used was of sufficient size or prominence.

A Carphone Warehouse ad which promised a TV, broadband and phone bundle for €50 a month for six months, after which the charge climbed to €73 per month was also deemed to be insufficiently clear about the terms and conditions.

And an ad for Chill Insurance was criticised for featuring a man diving into a swimming pool through the rubber ring.

A person complained because the act of diving into a swimming pool through a rubber ring was irresponsible and dangerous. The committee considered the safety guidelines issued by Irish Water Safety which said the practice of diving through rings should be discouraged.