A national press ad for mobile phones stated “The Samsung Galaxy collection”. The ad featured three mobile phones with a roundel that included the text “From £26 a month … £29 upfront cost”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because it failed to state the different prices for each handset.
Hutchison 3G UK Ltd t/a Three.co.uk considered that the use of the word ‘from’ did not imply that all phones were available at £26 and consumers would understand a ‘from’ price to be akin to ‘prices start from …’ which indicated that at least one of the featured models was available at the stated prices. They added that although two of the phones were not available at the ‘from’ price, they were not significantly more expensive than each other and it was widely understood that new phones and those with higher specification and memory would cost more than older, lower specification models. They said all phones were given equal prominence and one phone appeared larger due to its size in relation to the other phones.
The ASA noted that one phone had a cost of £26 per month and the other phones were £33 and £34 per month. We also noted that two phones had a £29 up-front cost and one was £99 up-front. We acknowledged that a 'from' price would mean that not all the phones would be sold at the 'from' price and that features, such as model specification and call plans would impact on the initial price of a product. We noted that the image of one phone was larger than the others due to its actual size and considered that consumers unaware of that may have concluded that the 'from' price was the price of that handset because it appeared more prominently in the ad. However, we considered that because the monthly price was clearly marked ‘from’, consumers were likely to understand that not all phones started at the £26 price.
However, although the roundel stated "From £26 a month", the ad also featured an upfront cost of "£29", separated by a prominent line and that price was not accompanied with a clear ‘from’ price and we considered that could suggest that all the phones featured had the same upfront cost.
Because the upfront price statement had not made clear that it was a ‘from’ price, we concluded the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. 3.4 3.4 For marketing communications that quote prices for advertised products, material information [for the purposes of rule 3.3] includes: and 3.4.3 3.4.3 the price of the advertised product, including taxes, or, if the nature of the product is such that the price cannot be calculated in advance, the manner in which the price is calculated (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. and 3.10 3.10 Qualifications must be presented clearly.
CAP has published a Help Note on Claims that Require Qualification. (Qualification), 3.17 3.17 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product featured in the marketing communication. and 3.22 3.22 Price claims such as "up to" and "from" must not exaggerate the availability or amount of benefits likely to be obtained by the consumer. (Prices).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Hutchison 3G UK Ltd t/a Three.co.uk to ensure price statements were clear to consumers.