We recently ruled against Number Directory Ltd t/a contactvirginmedia.com, a telephone directory website that offered a call-forwarding service, for misleadingly implying an association with a third-party telecoms company. Also, it did not make clear the advertised number was more expensive than the third party’s official customer services number.
We’ve received a steady stream of complaints on this issue and have looked at similar websites for call-forwarding services to airlines, utilities and telecoms companies, amongst others. Consumers are urged to check these websites closely before making a call.
The best way, of course, to ensure you have the official contact number is to check the company’s own website.
For marketers, CAP recommends that call-forwarding services should:
- Make clear they provide a call-forwarding service rather than an official number for third-party services:
Rather than saying “contact x here”, claims such as “We can forward your call to x” and “We can connect you to x” are less likely to give a misleading impression.
- A prominent statement making clear the nature of the service is advisable, but a disclaimer alone would not be sufficient to dispel a misleading association with a third party website, so marketers should avoid repeated references to a third party and its products, or using similar colour schemes as the third party’s corporate branding.
Call-forwarding services should also make call charges clear, in line with Ofcom's Clearer call charges, which came into force on 1 July. Please also see CAP’s advice on call charges.
If you are a consumer or marketer and are concerned about claims on a call-forwarding service website, please make a complaint via our website, which will pass the matter to the appropriate ASA or CAP team.