ASA Ruling on TalkTalk Telecom Ltd
TalkTalk Telecom Ltd t/a
11 Evesham Street
16 January 2013
Internet (on own site), Regional press
Computers and telecommunications
Number of complaints:
CHI & Partners
A website and a regional press ad promoted free YouView boxes:
a. The press ad, seen on 11 October, stated "Britain's best value unlimited TV broadband and phone ... FREE YouView box, usually £299".
b. A claim on the website www.talktalk.co.uk, seen on 12 October, stated "FREE YouView box - normally £299!"
British Telecommunications plc challenged whether the claims "usually/normally £299" were misleading and could be substantiated, because, to their knowledge, the YouView box had only been available to purchase for six days when the press ad was published, and seven days when the claim on their website appeared.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
TalkTalk explained that their YouView box was a bespoke set-top box which was only available from TalkTalk. They highlighted that the ads stated that the price of the YouView box was "usually" or "normally" £299, and that that terminology accurately reflected that the YouView box was "actually" on sale for £299.
They asserted that because the YouView box was sold on their site for £299, the price could not be described as notional. Similarly, they highlighted that the YouView box had been promoted on the front page of their online shop and been seen by thousands of consumers who viewed that web page every month, which meant that they had established a retail market and the price of the product at £299.
TalkTalk also explained that the claim "FREE YouView box - worth £299!" appeared on their website on 1 October, but was updated to "FREE YouView box - normally £299!" on 12 October. Press ads stating "FREE YouView box, usually £299" appeared on 11 October. They confirmed that the YouView box was available to purchase from 5 October.
The ASA understood that the YouView box was not available to purchase until 5 October, but that the press ad was published on 11 October and the claim had appeared on TalkTalk's website on 12 October. We considered that most consumers would interpret the claims "usually £299" and "normally £299" to mean that the product was generally sold at that price. We noted that when the claim "normally £299" appeared, the product had been available to purchase for seven days, and similarly, that the product had been available to purchase for six days when the claim "usually £299" appeared in the press ad. We considered that six/seven days was not a sufficient period of time for a "generally sold at" price to be established. We also noted that TalkTalk had not provided any evidence to show that any YouView boxes had been sold for £299 when the press ad appeared. Because we considered that the product had not been available to purchase for a sufficient period of time to show that the product was normally or usually sold at £299, we concluded that the ads were misleading.
The claims breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.17 (Prices) and 3.40 (Price comparisons).
The claims must not appear again in their current form. We told TalkTalk to ensure that in future, they did not misleadingly imply that a product was generally sold at a particular price if they did not have the evidence to substantiate the claim.