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Dobedo.com ruled offensive by watchdog

And more tales from the murky world of IT advertising

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Once a month the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) produces a report on the complaints it has dealt with and once a month we get to learn about the dodgy tricks that IT companies have used to sell more boxes.

All the cases below have been upheld by the ASA and we hope that they're all ashamed.

Dobedo.com

Aiming at 16 to 25-year-olds, dobedo reckoned that its saucy tube adverts were humourous. Not everyone agreed. The nightclub DJ and sexy-looking female clubber, both with superimposed cartoon heads, offering the respective lines: "I've got a 12inch. Wanna play?" and: "I've lost my virginity. Can I have yours?" were deemed offensive by someone in Essex and the ASA agreed.

It's traditional British saucy humour, dobedo cried. C'mon if you do get them (and young kids won't) they you can't help but raise a grin. Hogwash, replied the ASA. Consider yourself told off.

LineOne

Tut tut tut. LineOne has been caught not once but twice up to no good. "The UK's largest FREE content provider," it told the world. This, it said, did not mean it was the largest content provider that you didn't pay for as some had understood it - it only said that it provided the largest amount of free content of any ISP. Bollocks, said the ASA.

Trying to be too clever for its own good, LineOne then designed a banner ad which had a yellow warning sign, "OK" and "Cancel" buttons and a "Please wait, analysing your system" progress bar. Some hapless fellow didn't recognise this is an ad and clicking on the cancel button only lead him to LineOne's site. Naughty, said the ASA.

Slammer.com

Slammer.com claimed "The price you see is the price you pay!" Of course, this didn't stop it informing one customer that Flight Sim 2000 Pro had - would you believe - just gone up to 49.99 from the 38.00 it had advertised. Bloody cheeky, the ASA decided.

DSG Retail (Freeserve)
AOL got a bit angry when it saw an ad offering 10 hours free Internet surfing a month if you spent 10 or more a month on national calls ("You don't need to change your BT line." it said). AOL said the offer didn't make it clear that ONLY BT customers could take the offer; that its conditions were not clear; and it mislead people into believing free time would be carried over into the next month. True, true and true, the ASA ruled.

Direct Mobile Phone

A magazine scratchcard offered various Orange phone prizes: "1000,000 worth of Orange mobile phones to be won". Of course, it didn't tell you that you'd have to sign up to a 12-month contract to claim your prize. Bad boys, tutted the ASA.

Polar Technology

Selling a 433MHz PC, Polar mentioned that it had a "DVD/CD drive" - just not one that would play DVD films. For that, you'd have to buy another DVD drive. One unlucky punter took exception to this and the ASA backed him up.

Hutchison Telecom (Orange)
Hutchison made big play of the fact that their pay-as-you-talk vouchers had no expiry date while its competitors' did. Unfortunately, this was a big fat whopper - the initial had exactly that - 30 days - and the company reserved the right to disconnect you if the voucher wasn't used by a certain time. Oh, and it omitted to say that to get its super cheap rate you had to buy the 50 voucher. The ASA was not amused.

Cartridge Express

"UK's lowest prices. If we fail to deliver our promise, we will supply you with the items completely free of charge." As long as you don't ask them, that is. One customer found some ink cartridges that were cheaper but he did get any free goods or a refund for the full cost. Cartridge Express will have to run the next ad through its Copy Advice Team.

And that's all for this month. More Legal, Decent, Honest and Truthful tactics in four weeks. ®

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