The Pre-Pay Phones section of the Three Ireland website listed the various phones that were available to purchase. One of the phones listed was a Samsung Galaxy A50 phone:
“Samsung Galaxy A50
Only €279.99 on Prepay”
Underneath the image of the phone and the price were two separate buttons titled:
On hovering over the “Special Offer” button text appeared which stated:
“Save €40 when you switch your number to Three and buy the Samsung Galaxy A50 in our Black Tag Sale. Was €309.99 now €269.99.”
On clicking the “Learn more” button, details were provided on the phone together with details of the special offer which was placed within a pink box and stated.
Save €40 when you switch your number to Three and buy the Samsung Galaxy A50 in our Black Tag Sale. Was €309.99 now €269.99”.
Underneath the Special Offer box was the following text:
I’m a new customer I am an existing prepay customer
The complainant considered that the advertising was misleading as they understood that the price of the phone for existing prepay customers was €279.99 and for new customers was €269.99. When purchasing the phone, the complainant noted that they were charged €319.99 and on querying why they were advised that the price of the phone for existing prepay customers was €319.99. As this was not stated in the advertising, the complainant considered the advertising in breach of the Code.
The advertisers stated that they regularly offered prepay handset offer discounts for customers who chose to port in their mobile number from another provider to Three. They said that in the run up to Christmas, 2019, they had special offers on some selected handsets and the phone in question was available to new customers moving their mobile number from another provider to Three at the price of €279.99. They said that their published terms and conditions in relation to the port offer was published on their website and had clearly stated that the offer was available for port in customers.
“Prepay Device Port-in Offer From €20 - €100 off selected handsets only subject to moving your number from Vodafone, eir, Tesco, Postmobile or Virgin to Three. New Prepay customers porting their numbers to prepay on Three Ireland (Hutchison) Limited in a Three retail store, Franchise, Preferred Resellers and Carphone Warehouse who purchase one of the selected devices shall receive only one Port In discount on the advertised recommended retail price (RRP). Promotional period 6th November 2019 – 2nd December 2020.”
The said that the full terms and conditions in relation to the Christmas promotional offer for November and December 2019 were published on their website and provided the Executive with a direct link.
The advertisers said that the online listing of the phone had clearly displayed a “special offer” label and a click box to “learn more”. They said that when a customer selected “Learn more” they were brought to the product detail page that had clearly and prominently stated “Save €40 when you switch your number to Three” which indicated that the offer was applicable to customers who switched their number to Three. They said that the next step for a customer was to select “Continue” as a new customer or to select “Upgrade” if they were an existing customer. They said that there was a further page in the online sales journey for each step. If a customer selected “Continue” as a new customer, they were brought to a page where they must choose their plan and within the “Choose your plan” box, it clearly stated that the price was a “switch to Three discount price” which was only applicable when the Switch to Three button was selected as “yes”. If a customer had selected “No” on the “Switch to Three” button then the discount was removed and a message was placed that stated “you can only get the ‘Switch to Three’ discount when you bring your number to Three”. They said that the handset price had been very clearly and transparently displayed depending on the online sales journey option that the customer selected before purchasing a handset.
In regard to the price of €279.99, they said that the special offer discounted price was not available to existing Three customers. They did not consider that the advertising was in breach of the Code for the following reasons:
• the terms of the special offer had very clearly and prominently stated “save €40 when you switch your number to Three”;
• the special offer price was very clearly set out during the online sales journey; and
• the offer only applied when the customer had selected the option to move their number to Three.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that there were three prices quoted in the advertising, a headline offer of €279.99, a special offer of €269.99 for new customers and a “was” price of €309.99. As a special offer for new customers was detailed, the Complaints Committee did not consider it unreasonable that customers would consider the headline offer of €279.99 to be available to existing customers. In the circumstances the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4 and 4.22 of the Code.
The advertisement must not reappear in its current form.