Two banners on the advertisers’ website referred to the following:
Banner No. 1:
“FREE INSTALL AND 3 MONTHS FREE
Step 1: We demo the system online
Step 2: We come to your location and install
Step 3: We setup and customise the system for customers
Step 4: You start saving money immediately”
Banner No. 2
“No Long Term Contract Required
First 3 months FREE
No hidden extras”
The complainant objected to the offer of “3 months free” as he said that a) the free offer was only available at the end of the contract and b) was subject to the contract being renewed. He said that when he queried this he was informed that it was set out in the terms and conditions.
The advertisers said that their offers were clear to all clients both on their website and at point of contact of the offer. They said they had hundreds of clients throughout Ireland and none of them had complained of any issues with their offers over the last number of years.
The advertisers said that the offer in question was part of different offers that changed all the time. They pointed out that further down on the same web page, where information was provided on the offer, they had clearly stated that “any offer is subject to terms and conditions”. They said that their 3 point communication had always been accepted by customers and that they had never received any complaints, apart from this one.
In conclusion the advertisers said they considered their processes to be always transparent and clear.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that the advertisement had offered “First 3 months free” to those signing up to the Trackmatic service. In the absence of information to the contrary, they considered that most consumers would consider that this free period would relate to the current contract they were signing up to. The fact that a subsequent contract had to be entered into to qualify for the three free months was a major condition which the Committee considered should have been referenced in the main copy of the advertisement.
The Complaints Committee noted the advertisers’ comments in relation to the fact that they had stated on their webpage that “any offer is subject to terms and conditions”. They noted, however, that this information was printed separately towards the bottom of the webpage and had not been mentioned in or linked to the main advertisement. The Committee reminded the advertisers that any major condition which may influence a consumer’s decision as to whether or not to partake of an offer should be indicated in a clear manner. They also reminded them that it was not appropriate to contradict the impression created by the headline of any offer with the small print contained within the terms and conditions.
The Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 3.15(a) and 3.16 of the Code.
The advertising should not be used in the same format again.