A television advertisement promoting a smart phone offer from Three featured three branded smart phones, the Huawei P30, the iPhone Xr and the Samsung S10.
The voiceover stated:
“At Three, we've created another amazing offer. Get a top of the range smartphone for the guilt free price of just €9.99. Including the Huawei P30, the iPhone XR and the Samsung S10 with Three's plans from just €45 a month. And as Ireland's only network with all you can eat data, you can stream every episode, share your discoveries, and keep up with the latest sounds. Get all this and more with three. Make it count.”
On screen text stated:
“number port in, direct debit and 24 month minimum term applies. All you can eat data ROI only. See three.ie”
The complainant viewed the advertisement and as an existing customer, wanted to upgrade their phone and avail of the offer. The complainant was advised that the offer was not available to existing customers. The complainant considered that no reference had been made in the advertisement stating that the offer was only available to new customers.
In response the advertisers stated that they ran an advertising campaign in February and March 2020 offering a selection of phones from €9.99. They said that the advertisement featured three phones, the Huawei P30, iPhone Xr and the Samsung S10 available at €9.99 with plans from €45.00 per month and that the offer was available to customers switching (known as porting) their mobile phone number to Three and was also available for existing Three prepay customers moving to bill pay.
They said that the terms of the offer clearly and prominently featured in the television advertisement, which included that the offer was subject to a ‘Number port in’. They considered that they had clearly and transparently featured the terms of the offer in the television advertisement having included the key terms in the text featured on the advertisement ‘Number port in, direct debit and 24 month minimum term applies. All You Can Eat data ROI only. See three.ie’. They also said that the viewers of the television advertisement were referred to their website, three.ie, where the offer landing page clearly outlined that the offering was available when switching to Three bill pay. They provided the Executive with a screenshot of the landing page and a link to the live page.
They also stated that the full terms and conditions of the offer were published on their website where they outlined the eligibility criteria which stated that the offer was available for new customers bringing their number to Three and for existing prepay customers moving their number to Three bill pay -
“This offer is available to new customers bringing their number to Three, and subject to the below, in a Three store, Three franchise store, Carphone Warehouse store, Three preferred reseller online and telesales only. This offer is also available to existing Three Prepay customers moving their number to Three Bill Pay and subject to the below, in a Three store,
Three Franchise store, Carphone Warehouse, Three preferred reseller, telesales and online only.”
They also said that the full terms and conditions available on their website, stated that the offer was not available to upgrading customers. ‘This Offer is not available to upgrading customers or other customer types.’ The advertiser noted that the customer was an existing Three customer and while they noted that they may have been disappointed that the offer was not available as a customer seeking to upgrade their phone, they had been advised correctly as per the terms of the offer that the phone was not available to an existing customer seeking to upgrade their phone at a price of €9.99.
Finally, they stated that they did not believe that they were in breach of the ASAI Code as the television advertisement had clearly and prominently included the key terms of the offer by stating the ‘Number port in’ requirement in text contained in the advertisement, that the offer terms and conditions were published on their website which set out the eligibility criteria and that the offer was not available to existing customers on upgrade.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Committee noted the term of the offer had been included on screen stating “number port in” alongside a direction to the advertisers’ website. The Committee noted that the offer landing page on three.ie, and the terms and conditions, had clearly set out that the offer applied to new customers (or customers switching to direct debit plans). They considered that the language used in the television advertisement was unlikely to have been clear enough and was insufficiently familiar to consumers generally to indicate that the product was available to only one category of customer.
In the light of this the Committee considered that the television advertisement was in breach of Sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code.
The advertisement should not appear in its current form again.
The Committee reminded advertisers to ensure that terms of offers are clearly outlined to consumers in language that is easily understood.