Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, one of which was Upheld. The other was informally resolved after the advertiser agreed to amend or withdraw their advertising.
A website for The Tab, www.thetab.com, a student journalism website featured an advertorial for TPO Mobile, a mobile phone network provider, seen on 14 March 2017. The article contained information about TPO Mobile’s and its social responsibility initiatives. Text stated “… which gives 10 percent of your monthly bill to a charity of your choice at no extra cost to you…”.
The complainant, who believed TPO Mobile’s contribution to charities was less than 10%, challenged whether the claim “10 percent of your monthly bill to a charity of your choice at no extra cost to you” was misleading and could be substantiated.
The People’s Operator (UK) LLP t/a TPO Mobile said that customers were encouraged to designate 10% of their bill to a charity of their choice. They highlighted their terms and conditions which provided further details on how customers could nominate a charity.
TPO Mobile said that not all of their customers opted to donate to a charity when joining the service. They provided an example of their daily customer orders which showed that approximately half of their customers opted to donate to a selected charity. They also provided copies of a number of customer invoices and cheques addressed to charities.
TPO Mobile said that due to the nature of their product, they accrued donations for a period of time until they met a threshold. They said that the process helped guard against non-payment from customers and also limited the administration burden for TPO mobile and the relevant charity.
The ASA considered that consumers would interpret the claim “… which gives 10 percent of your monthly bill to a charity of your choice” to mean that TPO mobile automatically donated 10% of a customer’s bill to a charity selected by the customer.
We noted that TPO Mobile’s terms and conditions stated that customers were encouraged to designate 10% of their bill to a nominated charity. We understood from the evidence submitted that while TPO Mobile encouraged customers to donate to a charity, not all of their customers chose to do so which explained the disparity between their reported revenue and the stated figures donated to charities in their annual reports. We also understood that TPO Mobile offered a rolling 30-day SIM card only contract. We considered that because of the nature of the contract, it was reasonable for TPO Mobile to accrue donations until they met a specific threshold due to the operational benefits of doing so.
The evidence TPO Mobile provided showed that they designated 10% of a customer’s bill to be donated to charity. They also provided copies of cheques and online banking statements which showed that they regularly donated to chosen charities. Because we had seen evidence which demonstrated that TPO Mobile had donated 10% of bills to charity for customers who had opted to do so, we concluded that the ad was not misleading.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. Substantiation), but did not find it breach.
No further action necessary.