ASA Ruling on Datel Group plc
Datel Group plc t/a
12 December 2007
Number of complaints:
A TV ad, for Free Talker watches, featured on-screen text that read "0845 ... calls are charged at local rates".
The complainant challenged the description of the 0845 number as local rate, because he believed calls to those numbers were often more expensive than calls charged at the local rate.
BCAP TV Code
Max TV said they had sought guidance on the correct wording to use in connection with their call structure. They explained that, on the information available at the time, "Calls charged at local rates" best described the facts.
The ASA noted Max TV's comments and their belief that they had presented information they believed to be correct.
We understood that British Telecom (BT) was the dominant call provider in the UK and most of their customers subscribed to one of three 'Together Option' call packages; a significant majority of which subscribed to the 'Together Option 1' package. We understood that the rate at which these customers were charged for calls to geographic numbers (numbers with a '01' or '02' prefix) was the same, irrespective of the origin and destination of the call. In other words, the labels 'local' and 'national' were no longer meaningful to these customers.
We noted that, at the time the ad was broadcast, for BT Together Option 1 customers, the cost of a daytime call to a 0845 number was the same as that for a daytime call to a geographic number. We understood that this was why Max TV considered it acceptable to state that 0845 calls would be charged at local rates. However, the cost of an evening or weekend call to a 0845 number was, in most cases, more expensive than an evening or weekend call to a geographic number.
We therefore considered that describing calls to 0845 numbers as local rate was not only inaccurate and meaningless to the majority of viewers, it could also mislead those who still considered 'local' as synonymous with calling a geographic number.
On this point, the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 5.1 (Misleading advertising).
We told Max TV not to describe calls to 0845 numbers as 'local rate' calls.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Broadcast)