The advertisement stated “Phone Watch Your safety. Our passion. Now €499 limited offer save €200. Instant Response Guaranteed. PhoneWatch protect local communities all across Ireland 24 hours a day, every day”. It went on to highlight features of the service including “Always-on monitored smoke alarm for instant emergency services dispatch”, “Always-on monitored carbon monoxide alarm for instant emergency service dispatch” and “A panic button facility, for instant garda dispatch”. The advertisement included the statement “With PhoneWatch you can relax knowing that we will instantly respond to your burglar, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms”.
The complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading. He said that the price quoted only related to the installation costs of the system. In order to avail of the monitoring service, consumers would be required to pay a monthly subscription, amounting to an additional €444 per annum.
The advertisers said that while the PhoneWatch safety and security product was straightforward and easy to use, it did contain a number of different features. They had broken down all of the individual features in an easy to understand way so that consumers would understand what they were purchasing. They said that the special price featured in the advertisement related to the product and they acknowledged that it did not relate to the service fee. They pointed out that the contract term connected to the product was 30 days and therefore consumers were not committed to paying an ongoing monitoring fee. However they said that they would amend the advertisement to include a line to highlight the fact that a monitoring fee applied.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that the price referred to in the advertisement related to the product only; an additional ongoing fee was required to avail of the advertised monitoring service. They considered that given the prominence in the advertisement of the benefits of the monitoring service, the existence and cost of that service should have been included in the body copy of the advertisement.
The advertisement should not reappear in its current form.