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BT free broadband ads ‘misleading’ says regulator

Upholds claims against 'free' six-month offer

BT rapped by ASA

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has found a BT advert featuring a ‘free for six months’ claim misleading following two complaints. 

The claim featured in an advert in regional press and on TV in October 2012, and stated that BT broadband would be ‘free for six months’. The complaints were that the claim was misleading because line rental, at £14.60, was still payable during this period. 

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BT’s misleading advert and its response

Both adverts featured a BT broadband and calls package at a cost of £13 a month plus £14.60 a month for line rental, and mentioned a free for the first six months offer. Small print at the bottom of the print advert stated that you had to sign up for a 18 month contract and pay £14.60 for line rental. While the TV advert showed on-screen text stating an 18-month term and a rise in BT line rental from the 5th January 2013. 

BT has agreed that the adverts could have been clearer and will be amending the advert to do so. It also admitted it had ‘overlooked’ the fact that the positioning of the reference to line rental meant customers might interpret it to mean that it was included in the free offer. 

Why was the complaint upheld by the ASA?

As the line rental had to be paid from the start of the contract, and this was not made clear in the advert, the ASA concluded that the claims were misleading. 

The ASA has ruled that the adverts must not appear again in their current form. It also warned BT that they need to make it clear to consumers in future of what you have to commit to to get the ‘free’ offer. 

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