The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints about two separate advertisements produced by The Carphone Warehouse in May. Both ads were headlined ‘Phone 4. UK’s lowest price’, with one also containing small print that said ‘Service Plan in-store £13.99 per month’.
One complaint said the £13.99 figure suggested this was an iPhone tariff, while the other challenged the ‘lowest price’ claim because lower prices were apparently available elsewhere.
The Carphone Warehouse said ‘service plan’ was commonly used for extended warranty products, not for mobile phone tariffs. It also said it monitored competitor pricing to ensure no authorised Apple reseller had published cheaper prices and would price-match competitors’ iPhone 4 prices even if they weren’t published.
In its adjudication, the ASA said the reference to ‘Service Plan in-store ...’ was misleading because it wasn’t an obvious reference to an insurance product rather than a tariff. It also upheld the complaint about the ‘lowest price’ claim, noting that the Carphone Warehouse’s own data showed its prices to be more expensive on some occasions. In addition, some competitors offered pay monthly tariffs that weren’t available from The Carphone Warehouse. Finally, it considered that consumers were likely to interpret the ‘lowest price’ claim as meaning prices were lower than, rather than equal to, the lowest prices offered by competitors.