The possibility of monthly charges rising during a fixed-term mobile phone contract has resulted in a complaint being upheld against a Three UK advertisement. Because the network reserved the right to increase charges in line with inflation during the minimum term, the UK Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that referring to a fixed monthly amount was misleading.
Consumer organisation Which? has been campaigning for mobile networks to guarantee fixed prices throughout the initial term of ‘pay monthly’ contracts, while UK regulator Ofcom has responded to these concerns with a formal consultation.
Promoting a tariff as ‘£30 per month’ for a ‘24 month contract’ is unacceptable, the ASA said, because this did not clearly explain that the network could increase the monthly price within the term of the contract.
Three noted that its contracts only permitted the monthly recurring price to increase in line with inflation (the ‘RPI’), pointing out that other mobile operators and internet service providers had similar terms. In addition, 2012 was the first time it had increased prices in this way for nine years.
In its assessment, the ASA said the potential for the monthly tariff to be increased should have been made clear in Three’s advertising material. As it wasn’t, the ad breached the Committee of Advertising Practice rules on misleading advertising and qualification.