The advertisers’ website stated the following:
“RED Super €75 per month
Phones from FREE
unlimited calls to any network
unlimited texts to any network
500 worldwide minutes
500 worldwide texts
24 month contract
New phone every year”
The complainant considered that the advertising was misleading. He said he was unaware when he signed up to the offer that availing of the ‘New phone every year’ would automatically result in a further 24 month contract. He said that, when he went to find the relevant clause in the terms and conditions, it was difficult to find it.
The advertisers said that the advertisement had clearly highlighted that each price plan was subject to Terms and Conditions and they forwarded a screen shot of their Price Plan webpage that highlighted that terms and conditions were applicable. The webpage stated “Chose your phone first – see all bill pay phones. Got questions about RED? Click here to ask Holly (a picture of an avatar was beside this text). Under the text further text stated “See Vodafone RED terms and conditions”.
The advertisers also forwarded a screen shot of the relevant terms and conditions which included “3. It is subject to the customer re-entering a new 24 month contract on a plan of equal or greater value and contract length”.
The advertisers did not believe that the advertisement was misleading as they considered that it was clear that terms and conditions applied to the price plan.
Additional Information From ASAI Secretariat:
On the bottom of each webpage on www.vodafone.ie there were links to various types of information under four headings, About Vodafone, Support, Most Popular phones and Contact us. At the very bottom of the webpage there was a link to Terms & Conditions.
On the home page there were four scrolling offers one of which related to Vodafone Red. Choosing this offer brought the user to a webpage which detailed the benefits of the Vodafone Red and the different plans. At the bottom of this page, just above the generic information referred to in the first paragraph of this section, text stated “See Vodafone RED terms and conditions.
*Allowance includes 1GB extra data when you sign up before July 31st 2014”.
This statement was in a part of the page commonly referred to as ‘below the fold’, the part of a webpage that cannot be seen without scrolling down.
Included in the Terms and Conditions were the following
“New Every Year:
1. New Every Year is available as a purchasable add-on on specific price plans as determined by Vodafone.
2. New Every Year allows customers to upgrade after 12 months once they have remained on the applicable plan and add-on for 12 months consecutively.
3. It is subject to the customer re-entering a new 24 month contract on a plan of equal or greater value and contract length.
4. It is also subject to the trade in of your original device model, type and size when you originally connected to a Vodafone RED price plan.
5. See ‘Your Handset’ Trade In terms and conditions for more details.”
The plan information for Vodafone Red included the statement “New phone every year” and clicking on this statement brought the user to a webpage on the Support section of the website headed What is New Phone Every Year? There were a number of questions and answers including
When will a New Phone Every Year customer be entitled to an upgrade?
All New Phone Every Year customers are entitled to upgrade every 12 months for as long as New Phone Every Year add on continues to be part of their monthly price plan.
Navigating from the plan on the previously mentioned page did not give any further opportunities to see terms and conditions specific to Vodafone Red or the New Phone Every Year offer up to at least the point where customers were invited to provide their details to sign up for the offer.
Another possible route through the website was through Choosing from the Shop, Bill pay phones, which brought the user to a page where they could select a phone from ‘Best Value phones on Vodafone RED bill pay plans”. Choosing one of the phones bought the user through an intermediate page (detailing the phone) to a webpage where the user could ‘Choose your new plan’. Details of the different RED plans were given and on Red Super (the plan which covered a new phone every year) text stated “More about this plan”. Clicking on this link resulted in a pop-up with details on the plan including “New phone every year – you can upgrade to a new handset every year by trading in the last phone you got on your contract”. No information was given about the requirement to enter a new 24 month contract.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint, the advertisers’ response and the information provided by the ASAI Secretariat.
The Complaints Committee did not consider that it was acceptable that consumers were not alerted to the presence of and location for the terms and conditions applicable to offers. While it was acceptable on advertisers’ websites to provide the complete terms and conditions on a webpage different to that on which the offer was, they considered that it was likely to mislead consumers when the link to the terms and conditions was not immediately apparent. They considered that it should be possible to link directly from the offer (in this case, the information on the plan) to the terms and conditions. The Committee considered that the advertising for Vodafone RED on the advertisers’ website had breached sections 2.22 and 2.24 of the Code.
The advertising on the advertisers’ website should be amended to ensure that consumers are made aware of and can access the terms and conditions applicable to all offers promoted on it.