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ASA Ruling on Official iPhone Unlock Ltd

Official iPhone Unlock Ltd

Suite 305
Capital Building
Victoria
Mahe

Date:

11 January 2017

Media:

Internet (on own site)

Sector:

Business

Number of complaints:

1

Agency:

None

Complaint Ref:

A16-350448

Background

Summary of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.

Ad

A website for Official iPhone Unlock Ltd, https://www.officialiphoneunlock.co.uk, seen on 20 August 2016, was headed “What service do you provide?” and stated “To learn more about how to unlock your iPhone, have a look at our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions”. In the section “Unlock FAQ”, text stated “Other sites claim to do it in 5 minutes, why do yours take longer (6 hours or more)? Many iPhone unlocking sites out there are scam websites - anyone selling you software to unlock an iPhone is at best selling you a jailbreak which will not sim unlock your handset, and at worst selling you a virus. We sell official factory unlocks which are sanctioned by the carrier and performed by Apple, hence there is a timeframe which needs to be adhered to”. Text further on stated “A pre-order simply means that those unlocks are currently offline whilst we are in negotiations to confirm a price with the carrier and Apple”.

A link at the bottom of the web page led to the “Terms and Conditions”, which stated “15.1 If a handset is reported lost or stolen (or abused), it may well be 'Blacklisted' (also known as 'Blocked' or 'Barred'), preventing it from ever being used again in the UK on any of the major networks. It is not possible to find out if a 'SIM Locked' or 'SP Locked' handset has been 'Blacklisted' from any particular network or all major networks without first performing the 'unlock' procedure using our services. Therefore, if we undertake an unlock and you find out the phone is in fact logged as lost, stolen or abused, we cannot then refund your payment".

Issue

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

1. “We sell official factory unlocks which are sanctioned by the carrier and performed by Apple … A pre-order simply means that those unlocks are currently offline whilst we are in negotiations to confirm a price with the carrier and Apple”, because they maintained that the advertiser did not work with Apple; and

2. “It is not possible to find out if a 'SIM Locked' or 'SP Locked' handset has been 'Blacklisted' from any particular network or all major networks without first performing the 'unlock' procedure using our services. Therefore, if we undertake an unlock and you find out the phone is in fact logged as lost, stolen or abused, we cannot then refund your payment”, because they understood it was possible to find out if a device was blacklisted prior to unlocking the phone.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

1. Official iPhone Unlock said they did not work with Apple but that they did work alongside unlocking departments in all the major carriers worldwide to unlock devices.

2. Official iPhone Unlock said it was possible to see if a phone was lost or stolen but that each one required a separate payment and submission. They therefore wanted the responsibility for checking whether a phone was lost or stolen to be with the customer rather than with Official iPhone Unlock.

Assessment

1. Upheld

The ASA considered consumers would interpret the references to unlocking being "performed by Apple" and to Official iPhone Unlock being "in negotiations to confirm a price with the carrier and Apple" to mean that Official iPhone Unlock worked directly with Apple to provide their service. Because Official iPhone Unlock had not supplied evidence to show that they worked with Apple in that way, we concluded that the claims were likely to mislead.

2. Upheld

We considered consumers would interpret the claim "It is not possible to find out if a ... handset has been 'Blacklisted' ... without first performing the 'unlock' procedure using our services" to mean that there was no way other than performing the unlocking procedure to find out whether a device had been blacklisted. Because Official iPhone Unlock had not supplied evidence to show that there was no way other than performing the unlocking procedure to find out whether a device had been blacklisted, we concluded that the claim was likely to mislead.

On both points 1. and 2. the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Official iPhone Unlock Ltd to ensure they held adequate evidence in future for claims that they worked directly with Apple to supply their unlocking service, or that it was not possible to check that a device was blacklisted before performing the unlocking service.

How to comply with the rules

For advice and training on the Advertising Codes please visit the CAP website.

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