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Freeserve strikes ad blow against AOL, Tiscali

'Don't mess with us' - Wanadoo UK

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Freeserve has struck a glancing blow on arch-rival AOL U, after the advertising watchdog ruled that AOL had used "unfair" comparisons to plug its Internet service.

AOL compared its own "free trial" offer with Freeserve's Anytime unmetered dial-up product, adding a table enabling punters to compare offers.

AOL added: "Other providers try this and that, but you simply can't beat what we deliver. Because when AOL offer you a free trial, it really does mean free."

Freeserve got the hump and claimed that the comparison table was "misleading because it did not make clear that Freeserve's promotional price applied for three months, making their service cheaper than that of the advertisers [AOL] over the whole three-month period".

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) agreed, claiming it was "unfair because, unlike the advertisers' [AOL's] one month trial, the benefits of Freeserve's trial extended over three months".

The ASA threw out another Freeserve complaint about AOL's 180 hour access restriction.

Today's small victory comes a fortnight after Freeserve lost its costly, long-running campaign to force AOL to pay VAT in the UK.

Freeserve also struck a blow against Tiscali UK after it emailed punters asking them: "Are you paying too much for your Freeserve Internet connection?"

Freeserve successfully argued that the ad "misleadingly implied they [Freeserve] charged customers £14.99 a month for a service similar to the advertisers' [Tiscali's] Pay As You Go service.

A Freeserve spokeswoman told The Register: "We're pleased the ASA upheld our complaints against AOL and Tiscali. Misleading advertising does nobody any good in the long run, that'll teach them not to mess with us." ®

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