UK: ASA Adjudications Snapshot - October 2009

Last Updated: 2 December 2009
Article by Susan Barty and Susie Carr

This article provides a selection of the most interesting ASA adjudications from October and a summary of the key issues considered in the adjudications.

This month, the ASA considered issues in relation to sales promotions, with particular emphasis on availability and misleading "BOGOF" claims. Comparative advertising and environmental claims also featured strongly in this month's adjudications.

To view the article in full, please see below:



Full Article

This article provides a selection of the most interesting ASA adjudications from October and a summary of the key issues considered in the adjudications.

This month, the ASA considered issues in relation to sales promotions, with particular emphasis on availability and misleading "BOGOF" claims. Comparative advertising and environmental claims also featured strongly in this month's adjudications.

SALES PROMOTIONS

1. Vistaprint Ltd, 7 October 2009 (misleading pricing claims)

2. The Enterprise Department Ltd t/a Coopers of Stortford, 14 October 2009 (misleading BOGOF claims)

3. Singapore Airlines Ltd, 14 October 2009 and BrandAlley t/a brandalley.co.uk, 21 October 2009 (ensuring availability of promotionally priced products)

4. Molson Coors Brewing Company (UK) Ltd, 21 October 2009 (withdrawal of promotion before expiry date)

5. Orange Personal Communications Services, 21 October 2009 (cost of text message deemed reasonable in context of BOGOF claims)

6. Zavvi Entertainment Group Ltd, 21 October 2009 (use of visual images in price reductions)

COMPARATIVE ADVERTISING

7. Tesco Stores Ltd, 7 October 2009 (sampling methods in comparative advertising)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

8. Danone UK Ltd, 14 October 2009 (health claims in relation to children)

9. Direct Beauty Products Ltd t/a Buycosmetics.com, 21 October 2009 (breakthrough anti-ageing claims)

10. SSL International plc, 28 October 2009 (offensiveness and careful targeting)

GAMBLING

11. William Hill Organisation, 7 October 2009 (free bets)

CLAIMS

12. Rockwool Insulation Ltd, 14 October 2009 (Absolute environmental claims)

13. EDF Energy Customers plc, 28 October 2009 (use of green imagery and association with Britain)

OTHER

14. Vodafone Ltd, 21 October 2009 (exclusions as significant conditions)

15. Vodafone Ltd, 28 October 2009 (use of word "abolished" significant conditions)

SALES PROMOTIONS

1. VistaPrint Ltd, 7 October 2009

A leaflet for VistaPrint was distributed with orders for an online retailer stated, "End of Season Clearance 99% OFF Pens... was £2.99 Now £0.03". The "was" price was crossed out. Four pens, with personalised logos, were shown.

Complaint/Decision

A complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because it implied that multiple pens could be purchased at 3p each, whereas the price per unit increased with the total number of pens purchased.

The ASA considered that readers were likely to infer from the claim, "99% OFF" that the selling price of the pens had been reduced from £2.99 to 3p per unit in the context of an "End of Clearance" sale. The ASA further noted that the leaflet did not indicate that the price per unit would rise according to the number of pens purchased (two pens cost £2 and 10 pens cost £14 etc) and did not make sufficiently clear to readers that the primary purpose of the price reduction was to allow customers to trial a single pen at the discounted price. In the absence of qualifying text to clarify the scope of the offer, the ASA concluded that it would not be unreasonable for customers to expect to purchase multiple pens at the discounted rate. Therefore the ASA upheld the complaint.

This adjudication demonstrates the potential dangers of making overly ambitious, bold headline price reduction claims and the importance of clearly setting out any qualifications and restrictions, especially in the context of strong pricing claims such as 99% reductions.

2. The Enterprise Department Ltd t/a Coopers of Stortford, 14 October 2009

A national press ad for a lightweight hiking pole stated, "NEW LIGHTWEIGHT TELESCOPIC SHOCK ABSORBING NORDIC HIKING POLE gives you an increased cardio workout whilst you're walking, buy for just £14.99 plus p&p and get another one free!"

Complaint/decision

The complainant challenged whether the second pole was "free" because when the poles were delivered they came in a pre-packaged box marked "set of two".

Coopers of Stortford explained that every customer took up the offer of a "free" pole and the company had therefore taken the decision to pack the poles in packs of two to help reduce the cost and volume of packaging and improve its robustness for delivery purposes. They said the packaging had been misprinted and should have read, "Nordic Hiking Pole + 1" instead of "set of two".

However, the ASA noted that Coopers had sold single poles for £12.99 (or two for £23.98) in June 2005 and that the description of the offer last changed in August 2005, so that the customer was able to buy two poles for £14.99. The ASA therefore concluded that the Coopers had inflated the price of the single pole that had to be bought as a pre-condition of obtaining the second pole. The "free" claim was therefore deemed to be misleading, because Coopers were in fact offering two poles in a £14.99 deal rather than offering a "free" product.

"BOGOF" claims have been the subject of some focus, particularly in light of the introduction of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. Although still permitted, such claims should always ensure that the free item is indeed free, and not included in the price due to a price inflation of the paid for items.

3. Singapore Airlines Ltd, 14 October 2009

An internet sales promotion, which appeared on Singapore Airlines website, listed a number of flights from London to various destinations. The price from London to Auckland was listed as "(including taxes)....369GBP" and from London to Christchurch was listed as "(including taxes) ....359GBP".

Complaint/decision

Four complainants challenged the availability of these flights at the advertised prices. The ASA noted that, although Singapore Airlines normally included the word "from" before prices to a destination if not all the flights were available at the price, this had not been the case on the promotions page of their website. Since not all flights were available at the advertised promotional fare, the ASA considered that the omission of the word "from" was problematic under the CAP Code, regardless of the fact that it appeared on the banner of Singapore Airline's home-page.

The ASA also noted that fewer than 9% of all the seats to Christchurch and Auckland were at the advertised prices. The ASA considered that a percentage of less than 10% was not a large enough proportion of the total seats available and so Singapore Airlines had failed to demonstrate that a customer travelling to either Christchurch or Auckland would have had a reasonable chance of obtaining a flight at the advertised promotional fare within the specified booking period.

The ASA provided useful guidance and concluded that advertisers should ensure that there was a minimum of 10% availability and a reasonably even spread of availability throughout the promotional period of an offer. In circumstances where advertisers cannot ensure a 10% minimum, their advertising should always make clear that availability is extremely limited.

This point also arose in the BrandAlley t/a brandalley.co.uk adjudication (21 October 2009) in relation to the amount of clothing being sold at the advertised discount of 80%. This complaint was also upheld as there was less than 10% of stock available at the advertised price.

4. Molson Coors Brewing Company (UK) Ltd, 21 October 2009

A circular, for a free pint of Carling, stated, "....YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO FAR FOR A BETTER BEER" and showed a photograph of a pint of Carling. The circular was delivered to households and contained details of the outlet in the relevant area where the consumer could redeem the voucher. The circular contained small text including " Manager reserves the right to withdraw the offer without prior notice...".

Complaint/decision

One complainant objected that the promotion had caused unnecessary disappointment, because his local pub had withdrawn the offer before the official closing date.

The ASA noted that, overall, the promotion was organised and run efficiently with adequate administration and resources. In particular, the ASA welcomed Molson Coors' decision to contact the CAP Copy Advice team for approval before distributing the circular. The ASA agreed with the CAP Copy Advice team that the circular's terms and conditions were comprehensive.

The ASA acknowledged that the local pub in question had withdrawn the offer as it had experienced problems with underage individuals trying to redeem vouchers, or with individuals trying to redeem multiple vouchers that they had collected from the local area. Molson Coors explained that the behaviour of these individuals was causing distress to staff and other customers and that the pub had decided that it would be a less confrontational approach to simply withdraw the promotion altogether, rather than to keep trying to police its continuation.

The ASA considered that, although it was arguable that the pub should have continued to allow legitimate customers to redeem the vouchers, on balance it did have reasonable grounds for withdrawing the promotion entirely.

The ASA noted that the pub had given the information about their withdrawal to Molson Coors. However, it was a case of unfortunate human error that this information was not directed to the appropriate personnel. This meant that Molson Coors' Consumer Help Desk had remained unaware of the withdrawal. Molson Coors argued that had they been aware, they could have advised the pub to direct any disappointed customers to the Consumer Help Desks and other alternatives could have been arranged, for example, arranging for another outlet to redeem their vouchers or providing an alternative voucher of equivalent value.

Despite this error, the ASA still considered that Molson Coors' had appropriate procedures in place for dealing with disappointed legitimate customers. For example, any customers from the pub that did ring the Consumer Help Desk were sent letters of apology and discount vouchers for Carling. The ASA also noted that the voucher clearly stated, "...6. Manager reserves the right to withdraw offer without prior notice". The ASA therefore concluded that the promotion was unlikely to have caused unnecessary disappointment to consumers or to have given them justifiable grounds for complaint.

This adjudication demonstrates that withdrawing early from promotions can be permissible where there is a legitimate reason, this eventuality is covered by the terms and conditions and where appropriate procedures are in place to deal with legitimate, disappointed consumers. An isolated example of human error will not necessarily lead to a conclusion that procedures were inadequate.

5. Orange Personal Communications Services Ltd t/a Orange, 21 October 2009

An online sales promotion and a TV ad for Orange Wednesday "2 for 1 cinema tickets" both contained text qualifying the "2 for 1" offer including, "Tickets cost 35p....text 'FILM' to 241" and "Text ticket costs up to 35p. Participating cinemas only. Terms apply, see orange.co.uk/Wednesdays....text 'FILM' to 241".

Complaint/decision

The complainant challenged whether the reference to a "2 for 1" offer was misleading because there was a 35p charge for the 'text ticket' and therefore the cost of claiming two tickets was greater than the price of buying one ticket.

Orange explained that they had been running the promotion for a number of years without any previous complaints. They maintained that all of their ads clearly stated all of the material conditions of the promotion and specifically referred to the cost of the tickets. They pointed out that the only charge to the consumer was a 35 pence text message, which was not a premium rate.

The ASA acknowledged Orange's argument and concluded that the charge was reasonable and had been made sufficiently clear in both ads.

This adjudication demonstrates that the claim "free" may still be used where the "unavoidable cost of responding to the promotion" is a text message, rather than conventional postage and packaging costs. However, these charges must be made sufficiently clear in the ad and should not charged at an unreasonable or premium rate.

6. Zavvi Entertainment Group, 21 October 2009

An email ad for Zavvi was headlined, "Pay Day Bonanza from only £1.95" and showed the PopStar Guitar game for the Wii, the film Eden Lake on blu-ray, a CD, and Spider-man 3, Ghost Rider and Hulk on DVD.

Complaint/decision

A complainant challenged whether the ad was misleadingly implied that the products pictured were available at the "from" price of £1.95.

Zavvi explained that over 10% of all their products were priced at £1.95 when Zavvi originally prepared the ad. Zavvi conceded that the price had changed to £2.95 when the promotion went live and that the banner had not changed. However, Zavvi emphasised that although the price had changed to £2.95, they had continued to sell some products for £1.95 as part of the promotion.

The ASA noted that none of the products shown in the ad were available at the "from" price and considered that it would be reasonable for consumers to expect one or more of the products highlighted to be available at the advertised "from" price. The ASA therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.

This decision mirrors the ASA's adjudication last month in relation to Play.com. (please click here to review the ASA Snapshot from September). In this case, Play.com had used a Harry Potter image to promote "blu-ray DVDs from £7.99", even though none of the Harry Potter films could be purchased at the advertised from price.

COMPARATIVE ADVERTISING

7. Tesco Stores Ltd, 7 October 2009

A price comparison TV ad for Tesco included the following voiceover, "At Tesco, we compare the price of the things you actually put in your shopping basket. You know, everyday things like eggs, milk, chicken, tomatoes and broccoli... over one million of these real baskets were cheaper at Tesco...".

On-screen text stated, "based on a 10% sample of Clubcard transactions in store 16/03 comparing Asda prices online 16/03. Closest match applied. Includes promotions. Excludes multibuys, non-matches, Express, selected Metro. To verify please contact Tesco Price EN8 9SL or www.tesco.com. Clubcard exclusions apply..."

Complaint/Decision

Direct Marketing Solutions Ltd challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that a typical basket of everyday items at Tesco was cheaper than an equivalent basket at Asda. They believed that the sampling method used was likely to affect the results of the comparison in favour of Tesco.

The ASA noted that the complainant believed that customers were predisposed to buying products in store if they were made aware that those products were cheaper than in competitor's stores. The complainant argued that in-store signage exacerbated that effect and was concerned it meant that, by sampling their own customers' baskets, the result would inevitably be biased in favour of Tesco, even if a competitor had an equal number of other cheaper products.

The ASA also noted a previous adjudication, which had identified problems with the comparison methods used by Tesco. However, in this case, the ASA concluded that viewers were unlikely to be misled. The ASA considered that viewers would understand that a number of factors might affect consumer behaviour and that samples based upon real purchases would inevitably take into account personal choices as well as any factors that particularly affected Tesco's own customers, such as in-store signage pointing out cheaper products.

Therefore, because the ad made clear that it was based on "real baskets", the ASA concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead viewers. This adjudication is an interesting development in the supermarket comparative advertising "battle" and indicates that the ASA can be willing to take a somewhat pragmatic and an apparently lenient approach to comparative advertising, provided that the basis of the comparisons is made sufficiently clear.

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

8. Danone UK Ltd, 14 October 2009

A TV ad showed a bottle of Actimel jumping over a skipping rope and featured the sound of children playing in the background. A voice-over stated, "Kids love Actimel and it's good for them too". The ad then featured the sound of children cheering. The voice-over continued, "Actimel: scientifically proven to help support your kids' defences. ". The final image showed the text, "scientifically proven" stamped on the screen.

Complaint/Decision

One viewer challenged whether the claim that Actimel was "scientifically proven to help support your kids' defences" could be substantiated.

The ASA acknowledged that Danone had provided a considerable amount of evidence to support their claim. However, the ASA felt that the claim went a step too far in that it appeared to target healthy children, when much of the scientific evidence that Danone had presented related to sick children having benefited from drinking the product.

The ASA also considerd that the ad did not make it sufficiently clear that two Actimel drinks may be required per day to achieve the immune system-boosting effect shown in Danone's scientific studies.

A spokesperson for Danone said it was "very disappointed" by the ruling, particularly as it had been in discussions with the ASA for over a year before the adjudication. Danone stated, "our scientific claims are sound and based on a large body of evidence. We have 24 published clinical studies all of which demonstrate Actimel's positive health benefits, in a variety of circumstances, on a range of people – from children to the elderly. These studies are designed and approved by a board of internationally recognised experts with extensive, directly relevant experience in human clinical trials, effects of pro-biotics in the gut, paediatrics and immunology".

This adjudication, though somewhat harsh, is a strong reminder to advertisers of the high standard of substantiation that is likely to be required for bold, high-performance claims. The ASA is likely to take a particularly rigorous approach towards any strong health claims made in relation to young children.

9. Direct Beauty Products Ltd t/a Buycosmetics.com, 21 October 2009

A national press ad for silk pillowcases promised a number of health and beauty benefits. The headline was, "The NEW Anti-Aging Pillowcase?" and the ad made a series of bold claims including "These 100% pure silk pillowcases have three irresistible beauty and health benefits. 1. Beautiful skin. It is estimated that after sun damage, the biggest cause of aging is from sleeping on cotton, linen or polyester pillowcases. They wick away moisture from your skin... Silk proactively helps to retain moisture and minimise wrinkling. 2. Beautiful hair. Silk is made up from strings of amino acids, the same ph [sic] as your skin. These proteins will prevent 'bed hair', frizz and split ends. You will see and feel the difference the first morning! 3. Repel mites. SilkPerfect's luxury silk pillowcases are repellent to hundreds of house mites that commonly live in your bedding: they will actually move away from your face. Silk's hypoallergenic properties have also proven to ease conditions such as eczema and asthma".

Complaint/decision

The complainant challenged whether the claims were misleading and could be substantiated.

The ASA also challenged whether the claim, "silk proactively helps to retain moisture and minimise wrinkling" could be substantiated.

The ASA upheld all of the complaints, on the basis that Direct Beauty Products had not provided sufficiently robust evidence to support their bold claims. For example, in relation to the claim that the second biggest cause of ageing was from sleeping on cotton, linen or polyester pillowcases, the ASA noted that the advertiser had not provided any comparative evidence outlining the different causes of ageing and their comparative effects on the skin. In conclusion, the ASA considered that much of the evidence provided was anecdotal and whilst the advertiser provided some quotes from studies, they did not provide the studies themselves.

Although unsurprising for this particular ad, this decision is a reminder that the ASA takes a very strict approach in relation to any high performance claims for anti-ageing products and will require detailed and robust and scientific evidence in support of these claims.

10. SSL International plc, 28 October 2009

A sequence of four posters for "durex play" products featured the "durex play" logo and a photograph of some of the products' packaging, which included "massage mousse", "orgasmic gel for women", "vibrations" and "massage melts". Each poster also included a prominent statement in white text against a pink background, such as, "Are you ready to scream?", "Make some noise for the boys" and "Do you like it loud?".

The ads ran for one month as part of Durex's sponsorship of the Take That tour, with posters only being displayed at each venue for the duration of Take That's appearance at that location and being removed once the concerts were over. SSL International said that the exact site of each poster was booked specifically to target concert attendees and that footfall analysis was used to determine the main routes to and from the venues.

Complaint/decision

A complainant believed that the posters were offensive and unsuitable for general display where children may be able to see them.

The ASA acknowledged that ads for products such as those in the Durex brand were likely to be deemed distasteful by some. The ASA also recognised the importance of protecting children from information that could harm them. However, the ASA considered that these particular ads did not contain graphic references to sex or sexually explicit imagery. In the context of the Take That concert, the taglines were likely to be read simply as a play on words based on a typical audience reaction to popular artists. In addition, the ASA considered that young children were unlikely to understand the double meaning of the messages and so were unlikely to be harmed.

This adjudication demonstrates that the ASA may permit advertising messages that could otherwise be deemed indecent or offensive, provided that this material is carefully targeted to specific audiences and is unlikely to be seen or understood by young children.

GAMBLING

11. William Hill Organisation Ltd, 7 October 2009

Two press ads for William Hill bookmakers stated, "£100 OF FREE BETS! New customers open an online or phone account using Promo Code XXXX to claim £100 in free bets. 1st bet up to £50 matched then 5 x 10 Free Bets*". The asterisk linked to small print setting out restrictions plus other details.

A further poster showed an image of a computer mouse with the accompanying text, "£100 OF FREE BETS ONLINE. Enter promotional code XXXX. Terms and conditions apply".

Complaint/Decision

A complainant challenged whether the ads were misleading because they did not make clear that any winnings that resulted from the "free bets" would be settled without the amount of the free stake being returned. The ASA noted the terms of the offer were that consumers could claim the promotional £100 of free bets in increments as a result of spending specified amounts on real bets. The ASA considered that, because the increments of "free bets" were only awarded as a result of minimum spends by the consumer, customers would expect those bets to be treated in the same way as any other bet and to get their stake back along with the winnings.

The ASA noted that the terms and conditions on the advertiser's website stated that stakes were not returned on "free bets". However, the ASA also noted that this information was not included in the ads. The ASA considered that this was a significant condition, which was likely to affect consumers' decisions to take advantage of the offer in the first instance. The ASA therefore concluded that this omission from all three ads was likely to mislead consumers.

This adjudication reminds advertisers of the importance of detailing significant conditions in an ad. It is not sufficient to refer consumers to terms and conditions on a website, particularly in instances where there are restrictions to strong headline claims, such as "£100 FREE BETS".

GREEN CLAIMS

12. Rockwool Insulation Ltd, 14 October 2009

Two ads in relation to insulation material made the claims "Insulation for life. 100% recyclable, less waste, less landfill. Made from a totally natural material taken from renewable sources.....you will understand why, in every sense, this is insulation for life.....100% RECYCLABLE, 100% RIGHT ".

Complaint/decision

Two complainants challenged whether the claims "100% recyclable" and "Made from a totally natural material taken from renewable sources" were misleading and could be substantiated.

The ASA noted that the product could reasonably be regarded as "recyclable" as it could be decontaminated and returned to Rockwool's collection service. The ASA also noted that Rockwool had provided evidence to show a significant increase in the quantities of used product were being recycled at their plant. However, the ASA considered that Rockwool's claim went further as it stated, "100% recyclable ". The ASA concluded that this absolute claim was likely to mislead readers into thinking that the entirety of the product was capable of being recycled, whereas the ASA understood that a small proportion of oil based products and binder could not be recycled and were burnt off during the recycling process.

However, it is interesting to note that the ASA did not uphold the complaint in relation to products being described as "totally natural taken from renewable sources". The ASA considered that the use of minerals was sustainable and that they could be considered "renewable" in the geological sense. Whilst the ASA noted that the products contained a small amount of oil and binder, the ASA nonetheless considered that readers were likely to understand that this particular claim was simply a reference to the primary material used and would understand that other materials were used in the product and production process.

This adjudication demonstrates the ASA taking a strict approach to the claim "100% recyclable" and a somewhat more lenient approach to products being described as "totally natural" and "renewable". In this case, the ASA distinguished between these environmental claims on the basis of perceived consumer knowledge and understanding.

13. EDF Energy Customers plc, 28 October 2009

149 complaints were made to the ASA in relation to three TV ads, a press ad and a poster ad for "Green Britain Day".

The first TV ad featured a short sequence of a green coloured Union Jack blowing in the wind. The second ad featured this same sequence and finished with the EDF Energy logo in conjunction with the London 2012 Olympics logo and the launch date of their "Green Britain Day".

The third TV ad showed images of the 1948 London Olympics and Britain around that period. A voiceover stated, "London 2012 is our chance to lead the world in the fight against climate change, so on July 10th, EDF Energy are launching Great Britain Day". A group of people were shown cutting out a variety of different types of green fabric and sewing it together to make a Union Jack, which was shown flying in the wind.

The press ad and poster both featured similar imagery of the green Union Jack flag and its association with EDF Energy.

Complaint/Decision

The ASA received a large number of complaints, which challenged whether the ads misleadingly implied that EDF was a green company and a British company.

Surprisingly, the ASA did not uphold either challenge. In response to the first challenge, the ASA noted that the ads did not make any direct claims that EDF was a "green" energy supplier or, more generally, a "green" company. The ASA considered that consumers were likely to be aware that EDF was a conventional energy provider that utilised mainly non-renewable sources of energy. Although the ASA did consider that the green Union Jack imagery (particularly in the third TV ad) could be interpreted as "green" references, they concluded that consumers were likely to simply infer that EDF energy was promoting a campaign that emphasised the importance of taking steps to tackle environmental issues rather than a reference to EDF's green credentials. The ASA therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead in this respect.

This adjudication demonstrates that abstract, but very powerful, "green" imagery may be permissible in certain circumstances where no express environmental claims are made.

In relation to the second challenge, the ASA noted that although EDF was registered and based in the U.K, it does have a French parent company, EDF S.A. However, the ASA also considered that the ads did not state explicitly that EDF was a British company. Whilst the imagery in all of the ads and the accompanying voice-over in the third TV ad all emphasised the British nature of the campaign, the ASA felt that most consumers were unlikely to infer that EDF was a British company and so the ad was unlikely to mislead in this respect.

OTHER

14. Vodafone Ltd, 21 October 2009

A poster for international calls stated, "Make worldwide calls from the UK from only 5p a minute Vodafone.co.uk/international". The small-print in the top right-hand corner of the ad stated, "Available on pay as you go Simply and International Super Sim. Calls from UK to standard international landlines and mobiles only. One minute minimum call charge and terms apply. See Vodafone.co.uk/international".

Complaint/decision

O2 challenged whether the ad was misleading, because it did not make clear that the offer was subject to a £5 monthly charge.

The ASA acknowledged Vodafone's argument that the small print in the ad made clear to which customers the cheaper international rates would apply. However, the ASA also considered that the qualifying text appeared in small print at the top of the ad and was not linked to the headline claim. The ASA understood that Pay Monthly customers would be charged an additional £5 for the service. Therefore the ASA concluded that the exclusion of Pay Monthly customers from the offer was a significant condition that should have been stated prominently in the ad and therefore concluded that the poster was likely to mislead.

This adjudication demonstrates the importance of ensuring that significant conditions are given sufficient prominence and ensuring that any qualifying text is appropriately linked to the main headline claims.

15. Vodafone Ltd, 28 October 2009

Internet banner ads, an SMS message, press ads, posters, radio and TV ads for reduced international call charges included taglines such as, "Starting 1 June we're abolishing roaming charges" and "we're abolishing roaming charges this summer". Small print stated on some ads included the text, "valid until 31.08.09 for Vodafone Passport Customers....".

Complaint/decision

The ASA received 21 complaints about the ads. Most of the complainants challenged whether the ads, in particular the word "abolish", misleadingly implied that the roaming charges had been removed permanently.

The ASA noted the ads referring to roaming charges having been "abolished" to describe that they had been suspended for three months and that none of the ads sufficiently qualified that claim to clarify the intended meaning. The ASA considered that consumers were likely to interpret the ads, particularly the word abolished, to mean that roaming charges have been removed permanently, as opposed to having been suspended temporarily. Because this was not the case, the ASA concluded that the ads were misleading.

This adjudication reminds advertisers that significant conditions of promotions must always be made clear and that qualifying text must never contradict the main headline claims of an ad.

This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service. To register for Law-Now, please go to www.law-now.com/law-now/mondaq

Law-Now information is for general purposes and guidance only. The information and opinions expressed in all Law-Now articles are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to give professional or legal advice. All Law-Now information relates to circumstances prevailing at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments.

The original publication date for this article was 30/11/2009.

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If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.