Advertising on the Eir website for their broadband products stated:
“Broadband only. Built around you.
Broadband without the phone bill
No need for home phone? No need to pay for it”
A table with various Broadband only plans was listed, all priced at €45 per month.
“Broadband pay as you Use Home Phone – Online Price €45 per month…
Broadband, Mobile 100+1GB – Online Price €45 per month…
Broadband, TV Essential – Online price €45 per month…
Broadband, TV Essential, Mobile 100 + 1GB Online price €45 per month…”
“Broadband and phone
Our best deals are always online”
A table with various Broadband and Phone plans was listed with various prices:
“Broadband, Pay as you use Home Phone – Online price €45 per month…
Broadband, Unlimited Mobile & UK calls - Normally €30 per month – Online price €25 per month…
Broadband & International calls – Normally €35 per month – Online price €30 per month…”
At the bottom of both webpages users were invited to click on the link provided to “see more details”.
Complaints were received from Virgin Media and consumers in relation to the offers.
Virgin Media objected to the advertising for eir’s Broadband only products on the grounds that the webpages were clearly displaying promotional prices for all products (€45), but had not displayed on the same webpage the price the product reverted to after the promotional period. They considered that this information was required by consumers in order for them to make an informed decision.
The consumer complainants objected to the fact that eir had quoted three prices in their advertising for their Broadband bundles. The complainants considered that of the three prices quoted, only two were relevant and that it had not been made clear by eir what the cost of the bundle would be after the promotional period. The complainants considered that the offline promotional price (“normally” price) could give consumers the impression that this was the price after the promotional period, rather than the significantly higher actual price contained on the “See more details” page.
All complainants therefore considered the advertising to be misleading.
In reply eir stated that at the outset customers only saw a brief overview of the bundle details on their webpages and they were unable to see full bundle details of what they are looking to buy without selecting the “see more details” button at which point they are then clearly shown the promotional price, promotion duration, contract length and the after price. They said that as this was a website, the expectation was that customers would click on the button to ‘see more details’ to view the full information as it was ready to hand. They said that the reason for the button was to show a brief overview of the bundle and then give the customer an opportunity to review further by clicking on the ‘see more details’ button. They argued that this clearly provided all pricing and promotional information on this webpage.
They also advised that on their webpage there was a section called “promotions explained” that highlighted the difference between the online price and the standard eir price. They also said that the whole way through the customer journey on their website and at the checkout, the customer was clearly shown on the left hand side, the promotional price, the new customer discount, the online discount and the thereafter price. They said that this remains with them until they complete their order.
The Committee noted that there had been no indication in the headline price, or the brief overview that the advertised cost was an introductory offer for a limited time period. While the Committee accepted that the further detail was available once a customer clicked on the ‘further details’ button, they considered that this information should have been immediately apparent and not only available once consumers had taken an action.
In relation to the additional discount offered on online orders i.e. the statement of two prices, with one being described as ‘normally’, the Committee considered that the presentation was likely to cause confusion and to mislead consumers as to the status of the promotional price.
In the circumstances the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 5.5 and 5.16 of the Code.
The advertising should not be used in the same format again.