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Medium: Leaflet and Internet (Company Own Website)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10
Advertising on eir.ie for various broadband bundles stated:
“Broadband, Pay As You Use Home Phone
Online price €50 per month
Get this bundle.
Free eir Sport. Our superb 6 channel eir Sport Pack includes eir Sports 1 & 2, plus 4 BT Sport Channels.
eir Fibre Unlimited up to 100Mb. Unlimited superfast fibre broadband.
TV – TV is not included in this bundle.”
Various other bundles were also outlined with various prices. Bundles included ranged from dual play to quad play and all referred to “eir Fibre Unlimited up to 100Mb. Unlimited superfast fibre broadband”.
A six-page leaflet advertised various eir services. The front page stated “Get broadband speeds of up to 100Mb. Bundle & Save. Free eir Sport Pack. Broadband Homephone TV plus Free eir Sport. Bundles from only €35 a month for the first 3 months. Speak to your eir representative today”.
Inside the leaflet there were three bundles, including a Broadband and Phone Bundle which offered:
“Experience unlimited freedom with 100Mb superfast eir Fibre Broadband and eir Talk Unlimited Mobile and UK on a 12 month contract. Plus the eir Sport Pack is now FREE.
Unlimited Superfast eir Fibre Broadband
Up to 100Mb speeds
Absolutely no usage limits
FREE wireless modem
FREE Parental Controls
FREE access to eir StudyHub
FREE eir Sport Pack
eir Talk Unlimited Mobile and UK
Unlimited anytime local and national calls
Unlimited anytime calls to Irish mobiles
Unlimited anytime UK landline & mobile calls
€35 a month for the first 3 months. €70 a month thereafter”
Beside this text were two large circles inside of which were the following text:
Circle 1: “€35 a month” OR Circle 2: “€61.25 a month. Flat price option.”
Footnotes appeared on pages 5 and 6 with most text on page 6. Lines 20, 21 and 22 (of 26 lines) referenced Fair Use Policies for minutes (45,000), texts (10,000) and that Fair usage policies existed on “unlimited components of the bundle” and “ … the unlimited social bundle. Unlimited access to YouTube, Snap Inc, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.”
The complainant considered that the advertising on eir.ie viewed before and after he became an eir customer was misleading as it continuously referred to the data allowance with his bundle as being “Unlimited”. The complainant said that he was never advised at any stage that there was a fair usage policy and he noted that normally an asterisk in advertising was used by advertisers to indicate the terms and conditions of the product offer. On this basis he believed that there were no usage caps on his internet usage until he was billed for exceeding the fair usage policy. On querying this he was advised that the indication of the fair usage policy was included in the terms and conditions on the eir website. As this was not referred to in the advertising, he believed that any reasonable person would believe that ‘Unlimited’ was actually unlimited.
Complaint 2 & 3:
The complainants considered that reference to “Unlimited” and “Absolutely no usage limits” in advertising on eir.ie for eir’s home broadband bundles was misleading as a fair usage policy applied to the bundles, the details of which were hidden in the terms and conditions.
The complainant considered that the reference to “Absolutely no usage limits” on the eir leaflet was misleading as he was not aware of a fair usage policy on the bundle until he had signed up for the bundle.
The advertiser said that they noted that the customer placed an order online for a home phone and broadband bundle. They said that during the purchase journey the customer would have been requested to agree to eir’s standard terms and conditions, within which the fair usage policy around the “Unlimited” reference was called out. They said that it was the customer’s responsibility to read the terms and conditions and they also must acknowledge that they had been read and agreed to in order for their order to be fulfilled.
They said that they have reviewed the wording and presentation of the fair usage policy on their website and have amended it to make it even clearer to the customer, presenting it so that it is now upfront within their “products explained” section under all of their bundles. They said that taking the above into account they refuted the complainant’s assertion that they were not informed of the usage limit or that their advertising was misleading.
The advertiser said that the fair usage policy was made clear to customers in their advertising. They said that less than 1% of their customers exceeded the fair usage policy which was 1TB
The advertisers said that all their advertising clearly called out that a fair usage policy applied to all Unlimited elements of any bundle, the usage contained within, which was more than enough for regular consumer use, and was exceeded by less than 1% of customers. They said that this policy must be acknowledged and accepted prior to any sale to ensure customers are aware of it.
The advertiser said that the leaflet referred to by the complainant had included the wording “Fair usage policies exist on unlimited components of this bundle”. They therefore refuted the complainant’s claim that they were not informed of the fair usage policy.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaints and the advertisers’ response.
The Committee again 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 in any relevant advertising and be able to access it easily. A link should exist between the headline “unlimited” or similar claim and the reference to the existence of the fair usage policy.
In regards to the online advertising in this case, the Committee noted that while customers would have been required to agree to the purchase terms and conditions which included a reference to the fair usage policy in advance of making their purchase, there was no indication made at any of the references to ‘unlimited’ within the details of the bundles to the existence of a fair usage policy. The Committee noted the amendment made by eir in regards to the wording and presentation of the fair usage policy, however, they did not consider that the amendment was sufficient as there was no link from the main bundle details to the “Products explained” section at the bottom of the page. The Committee considered that the online advertising should have included a link from the description “unlimited” to the existence of the fair usage policy and a link from that to details of the fair usage policy in question.
In relation to the leaflet advertising, the Committee noted that the references in the main body at each of the bundles to “unlimited” and “Absolutely no usage limits” did not include an asterisk or similar to indicate that there was further relevant information pertaining to these words.
The Complaints Committee expressed their disappointment references to “unlimited” and similar were not presented in conformity with previous adjudications.
The Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code.
The advertising should not be run again in the same format. References to ‘unlimited’ and similar should be clearly linked, where relevant, to the existence of fair use policies. Marketing communications in online media should additionally link from these references to the details of the fair use policy.