A leaflet for Sky Ireland’s Digital TV service, delivered to homes by An Post, was laid out in an envelope style format. The front of the leaflet stated:
"Free Sky+ box when you join Sky TV.
To the householder – offer extended for a limited period.
Switch today and also get:
Award winning TV for €28 a month
6 months free Broadband Unlimited
Sky Go and On Demand at no extra cost
From Ireland’s No1 digital TV provider"
The back of the leaflet stated:
"Join today and save €109 see inside for details
Switch to Ireland’s No. 1 digital TV provider. Limited time offer.
And now get 6 months free Broadband Unlimited. see inside for details."
The inside of the leaflet listed details of the TV channels, sky+ box and the free unlimited broadband offer.
Terms and Conditions were listed in full in a small script in grey font on a white background.
The complainant stated that he had difficulty reading the terms and conditions with his reading glasses. He also considered that the text size was too small and the lines of text were very compact. He considered that the text used for terms and conditions should bear some relation to the size of the text used in the advertisement. The complainant also considered that some consumers could end up signing up to the service without being able to read the terms and conditions.
Sky Ireland stated that the font style and size used in the advertising was Sky Text size 5.5. They considered that the industry standard for small print was on average between point size 4 and 4.5 and they therefore considered their small print in the advertisement to be larger than average. They considered that the font should have been clearly visible to a normally-sighted person and they considered that this was particularly the case in the context of a direct mail leaflet as the customer was in a position to study the copy in some detail or get their reading glasses if necessary. They stated that they were not aware of any similar complaints and that the font size used was identical to that they have used in previous direct mails.
Sky Ireland also stated that they did not consider that a customer could sign up to their service on foot of the advertisement without being aware of the terms and conditions for the following reasons: 1) they considered that the terms and conditions were legible; 2) in circumstances where a claim was made in an advertisement which they felt required further clarification, they will place the clarification in size 8 font in the body copy to avoid any suggestion that it was hidden in the small print and 3) a customer is required to call their call centre before entering into a contract and they would be asked to agree to the terms and conditions before signing up to the service.
Sky Ireland outlined that they were often very tight for space when it comes to the amount of small print that they can include and their approach is to include as much upfront details for customers as possible using font size 5.5 or 6. They stated that where they to increase the font size then they would be left with a scenario where they would need to omit details from the small print and they considered that they were currently striking the right balance.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted the size of the font used by the advertisers, however, while the Code did not specify a minimum font size, it did require that they be of sufficient size and prominence and easily legible. The Committee noted the advertisers’ position in relation to “terms and conditions” and the requirement to contact the call centre. They considered that in this case a combination of the font colour, size and line spacing all contributed to making the footnote difficult to read for the normally sighted reader. In the circumstances the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Section 2.23 of the Code.
The advertisement should not appear in its current format again.