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Medium: Internet (Third Party Website)
Codes:ASAI Code 6th Edition: 1.6(c), 2.7, 2.9, 2.22, 2.24
An advertisement for eir on a search engine website stated:
“eir Bundle 6 Month Deal – eir.ie
pay just €25/Month for 6 Months. Totally unlimited Broadband Deals!
Best Deals Only Online. Eir Vision TV 55+ channels Get Broadband Only Now”
The complainant considered that the term ‘Unlimited’ was misleading as he had incurred charges for exceeding the limit on his ‘unlimited’ broadband bundle. He said that the advertisement had made no reference to the fact that the ‘unlimited’ bundle had in fact a ‘limit’ nor had it advised that charges would be incurred for exceeding the limit.
While the advertiser received a copy of the complaint for specific comment, they only responded in part to the ASAI’s request for the details of the fair usage policy and why the advertisement did not contain a link to the fair usage policy. The advertiser explained that the purchase process for the bundle advertised required customers to agree to their broadband terms and conditions before an order could be submitted. They said the terms and conditions clearly set out their fair usage policy, stating “eir Fibre packages with unlimited usage are subject to a Fair Usage policy of 1TB per month. Usage in excess of 1TB will be charged at €2.50 (inc. VAT) for every 10 GB up to a maximum of €100 (inc. VAT) per month.”
The advertisers did not provide details, as requested by the ASAI, of the percentage of customers on the particular plan affected by the fair usage policy.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee reminded eir of previous adjudications in which they had ruled that when there was a fair usage policy in place, customers should be informed of its existence and be able to access it easily. A link should exist between the headline ‘unlimited’ claim and the reference to the Fair Usage Policy (FUP). In this case, the Committee noted that the advertisement had appeared on a search engine website and linked directly to the eir bundle page and that a customer would have been required to agree to the purchase terms and conditions, including reference to the fair usage policy, in advance of making their purchase. The Committee considered that the advertisement should have included a reference to the fact that a FUP existed in the advertisement and that the landing page of the eir website should have included details of the FUP in question.
The Committee also referred to their previous rulings in regards to the use of ‘unlimited’ and how they understood that operators needed to ensure that their service was available to all their customers and that availability of the service should not be affected by some who, through excessive use, might abuse a particular offer.
It was in this context that the Complaints Committee had previously adjudicated that the term ‘unlimited’ could be used in certain circumstances, including the requirements that at least 99% of customers, on the plan in question, must not be affected by the FUP and that customers must be warned and given an opportunity to modify their usage before being charged.
They expressed concern at eir’s failure to respond to the further information requested. They reminded them that there was an onus on advertisers to ensure that their advertising was in conformity with the Code.
The Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 2.7, 2.9, 2.22 and 2.24 of the Code.
The advertisement should not be used in the same format again.
As the Committee had not seen evidence that the use of ‘unlimited’ was in accordance with the Committee’s previous adjudications, the Committee considered that the description ‘unlimited’ should not be used by the advertiser until such time as they had provided substantiation to the ASAI.