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BT is told to drop 'free' claims in adverts

Updated Advertising Standards Agency sets standards
Wed Jan 16 2013, 11:33
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THE UK'S Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has told BT off for not making it clear that something that looks ‘free' actually costs around £15 a month.

The firm was chided by the ASA after three people lodged complaints that some advertising it was running was not as clear as it needed to be.

The adverts, worried those people that complained, pretended that people could get free internet for six months, while whispering that actually there would be a charge, and a charge that was due to increase.

BT told the ASA that it had tried to make the advertising clearer but had "inadvertently" created something confusing.

"They said they had made efforts to amend all their advertising in a relatively short period of time, and had inadvertently created a confusing offer," reported the ASA.

"They had overlooked the fact that the positioning of the reference to line rental in ad (a) and voice-over regarding of the rental in ad (b) meant consumers might interpret it to mean that the line rental was also free for six months. They said they were willing to amend the ad to make the offer clearer."

The standards agency found that the claim "and now free for six months", when used after "All for just £13 a month plus £14.60 for a BT line", implied that nothing was payable to BT. Line rental was payable, and thus, it decided that BT's claims were misleading.

The ASA decided that neither advertisement should be shown again in its confusing form.

BT told us that the adverts "could have been clearer", saying again that whole thing had been a mistake

"BT agrees the press ad for 'the UK's most complete broadband package' and the TV ad that offered 'BT broadband and calls - free for the first six months' could have been clearer to show that 'free for the first six months' did not include line rental," it said in a statement.

"The ambiguity was an unintended consequence of our efforts to amend all our advertising quickly to comply with an ASA adjudication relating to another telecoms provider about the prominence of line rental." µ



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