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Avon pasted for mobile phone promo

BT, One.Tel ticked off too

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Cosmetics firm Avon is in need of an image makeover after failing to honour a free mobile phone offer for punters.

The company had promised a free Siemens or Samsung Pay as You Go (PAYG) mobile phone that could be used on the Orange network if punters bought more than £15 worth of skin-care products.

Unfortunately, Avon failed to predict just how popular the offer would be, claiming that demand "greatly exceeded their estimate". And even though the smallprint said that the offer was "subject to availability", the advertising watchdog agreed with aggrieved consumers that the promo wasn't up to scratch.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) fingered Avon because it continued to plug the offer, even though it knew it would be unable to meet demand.

The ASA told Avon to take "immediate and unambiguous action to minimise disappointment in the event that demand for future promotional items exceeded supply"...and to "take more care when administering future promotions".

Avon wasn't the only company gnawed by the watchdog today. BT - the UK's dominant fixed line telco - got a kicking for claiming that one of its phone packages offered "all UK calls" for a fixed monthly fee. The ASA rejected this because, as it was pointed out, some call types (such as dial-up Net access and non-geographic numbers) aren't covered in the price plan.

Still, in the tit-for-tat world of UK telecoms, BT managed to score a win against One.Tel, after complaining to the ASA that the discount telco's ad for its international call plan was neither "clear" nor "fair". ®

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