Claims on www.vodafone.co.uk, listed various pay monthly plans, each of which included a number of inclusive minutes. Each plan included a link, titled “Plan Details”, which linked to a pop-up box showing further details on the price plan.
Two complainants challenged whether the ad was misleading, because it did not make clear that every call would use up a minimum of one minute credit, even if the call lasted for a shorter duration.
Vodafone said they presented information about minute unitisation in a “light box”: a pop-up box that appeared on the same screen as the price plan offer once the “Plan Details” link was clicked. They argued the presentation of that information in a box allowed consumers to view price plan information without breaking their purchase route and was clearer than a footnote, which required consumers to scroll to the foot of the page. They therefore believed the minute unitisation information adequately qualified the number of inclusive minutes. However, they said they intended to amend the ‘Plan Details’ link to include details of minute unitisation at the top of that page.
Vodafone also provided a month of call data relating to pay monthly customers.
The ASA noted the ad listed a number of inclusive minutes as part of each price plan. We considered consumers would understand that to mean they were entitled to that entire duration of call time. However, we understood that the number of minutes did not necessarily reflect the total call time that a consumer would receive under the price plan. Rather, calls which lasted less than one minute in duration would be debited as one minute of call time and that included calls which reached voicemail. We noted the call data provided by Vodafone showed that a significant percentage of calls lasted less than one minute in duration. We therefore considered the fact that calls which lasted less than one minute in duration would be debited as one minute of call time to be material information, which consumers needed to make an informed decision about the advertised contracts.
We acknowledged Vodafone’s comments that consumers could access information about minute unitisation by clicking on the ‘Plan Details’ link. However, we considered that information was not sufficiently prominent given the overall impression of the ad, namely that consumers were entitled to the total duration of inclusive minutes. We also considered that stating that calls which lasted less than one minute would be debited as one minute of credit, contradicted that overall impression. We acknowledged that Vodafone intended to amend the ‘Plan Details’ link to include details of minute unitisation at the top of that page. However, we were concerned that the amendment also did not give sufficient prominence to the minute unitisation information and, again, would contradict the overall impression of the ad.
We concluded the ad breached the Code.
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. (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Vodafone to ensure they made clear all significant conditions in future.