The broadband section of the eircom website promoted various broadband products, including eFibre and stated the following:
“eFibre, superfast broadband delivers speeds of up to 100Mb. eFibre is being rolled out around Ireland, if it is not currently available in your area you can avail of our uncongested broadband and as an eircom customer you will get a free eFibre upgrade when it arrives in your area.”
The complainant considered that the claim to upgrade customers for free to eFibre was misleading as it did not inform customers that when they upgraded they would be entering a new 18 month contract, in addition to the current contract they held with eircom. He considered that consumers would expect the free upgrade to not affect their current contract.
eircom stated that they did not claim or promise that the transition to their eFibre product was without contract as if this had been the case they would have stated ‘contract free’. They said that the applicability of a new 18 month contract term was clearly stated on their website and on all ‘free eFibre upgrade’ communications. They also stated that they had simply offered a ‘free upgrade’ to eFibre which meant that eircom customers would continue to pay the same as they currently did for their broadband service but would experience speeds up to four times faster than their existing service. The reference to ‘free upgrade’ also meant that no installation costs would apply. They said that fundamentally, their customers did not have to pay anything extra for a far superior product and in their view this was the very essence of a complimentary upgrade and something that had not been embellished needlessly in their advertising.
eircom then directed ASAI to their ‘upgrade to eFibre’ broadband page which provided details of the eFibre bundle, including the fact that it was subject to an 18 month contract.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that the offer provided customers with the eFibre service for the same price as their existing broadband service and had not referred to the upgrade as contract free. The Committee noted that there were no hyperlinks in place from the references to the free upgrade to the terms and conditions explaining that availing of the free upgrade would result in a new 18 month contract. In the circumstances the Committee considered the advertising was in breach of Sections 2.22, 2.23 and 2.24 of the Code.
The advertising must not reappear in its current form.