Background

Misleading advertising: Official iPhone Unlock Ltd breaks the UK advertising rules for making misleading claims for its iPhone unlocking service on the www.officialiphoneunlock.co.uk website.

 

The ASA investigated whether claims on the officialiphoneunlock.co.uk website misleadingly implied that its service could be used to remove activation locks on phones where the ‘Find my phone’ service had been activated, or on phones that were lost, when this was not necessarily the case.

 

The ASA noted the “special terms” that appeared in the ad stated “Devices in ‘Lost Mode’ or handsets which are reported Lost/Stolen to the carrier are currently incompatible with this service”. However, the ad did not make clear whether the service could be used if the ‘Find my phone’ service had been activated by a user, and the ASA understood one of the display screens featured was the display screen that appeared when a phone was reported lost. Therefore, the ASA considered that consumers would understand the ad in context to mean that if the ‘Find my phone’ service had been activated and/or a consumer’s phone was lost, a consumer could use the advertiser’s service to remove the activation lock on their phone. The ASA considered the text “If your iPhone is stuck on any of the screens below - you need this service” and the three screen displays, which represented the variety of modes the serviced applied to, added to that overall impression.

 

The ASA did not consider that the qualifying text was sufficient to override that overall impression.

 

Because the ad did not make clear the service may not be available if the ‘Find my phone’ service had been activated by the user, and implied the service could be used where a phone was reported lost, the ad was considered to be misleading. The subsequent ruling stated that the ad must not appear again in the form complained of.

 

The ASA also investigated another ad on the Official iPhone Unlock website, www.officialiphoneunlock.co.uk, where the cost of the final payment was not made sufficiently clear to consumers.

 

The ad stated that on-top of the £19.99 payment that “there will be a final payment of around £60 upon completion of the unlock”.  However, the final payment two consumers were required to pay was £120.99 and £104.99 respectively. The ASA considered that the precise cost of the final payment, or the manner in which it was calculated if it could not be calculated in advance, was material information that was likely to affect a consumer’s understanding of the offer.

 

When consumers viewed the ad on a mobile phone the ASA also noted that the final payment text was only visible if a consumer scrolled down the page, whereas the “Pre-order” button and £19.99 payment was visible without scrolling. The ASA therefore considered that consumers were likely to follow the “Pre-order” button and understand the full cost of the service to be £19.99.

 

Because in neither instance was the full cost of the service sufficiently clear, the ASA considered the ads, when viewed on a computer and when viewed on a mobile, to be misleading.

 

Despite repeated requests from the CAP Compliance team to amend its advertising, Official iPhone Unlock continues to make misleading claims on its www.officialiphoneunlock.co.uk website.

 

Due to Official iPhone Unlock’s continued non-compliance and disregard for the CAP Code, the CAP Compliance team took the decision to place its company details on this section of the ASA website on 5 April 2018, updated on 6 August 2018 to incorporate the misleading pricing claims. These details shall remain in place until Official iPhone Unlock has removed the misleading claims from www.officialiphoneunlock.co.uk to ensure compliance with the CAP Code.   

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