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Telefonica loses advertising claim against Vodafone

Complaints not upheld by ASA

The UK Advertising Standards Authority has not upheld two complaints made by Telefonica about ads for Vodafone’s Freedom Freebee tariff option.

TV and online ads had described the prepay tariff as offering £50-worth of calls for £10. However, Telefonica - the company behind O2 UK - argued that very few consumers paid standard tariff rates for texts and calls, which meant the comparison wasn’t justified. It also said the offer had run for more than six months and that the £10 price had become established, which meant that the package was no longer ‘worth’ £50.

In its response, Vodafone pointed out that all new Vodafone pay as you go customers joined the ‘Vodafone Simply’ price plan and provided the ASA with details of customer numbers across its prepay tariffs. It also said Freedom Freebee was a permanent product, not a temporary offer. In addition, it was noted that Freedom Freebee had not been available in its existing form for six months when Telefónica first saw the ad.

The ASA noted that Vodafone’s figures showed that a significant proportion of their customers were on the Vodafone Simply tariff. It considered the comparison was justified and concluded that the claims were not misleading.

When considering the ‘six month’ claim by Telefónica, the ASA noted that a new product added to an existing tariff should only be described as ‘free’ for the first six months. However, for a straight price comparison, it said a comparison claim could continue to be made as long as the prices were representative of what customers paid.

The advertising can continue to be used; no further action will be taken by the ASA.

[ASA adjudication]

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Author: The Fonecast
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