Feeds

BT thrashed for 'free' VoIP call claim

Usage limits bite telco on backside

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Business security measures using SSL

BT Communicator - the giant telco's PC-based internet telephony service - does not make "free" calls, according to a ruling by the advertising standards authority (ASA).

The telco had bragged in one of its mailings: "BT Communicator - FREE UK Calls for a year" and "The power of BT Broadband to enjoy free calls for a year".

But this was challenged by a punter from Kent who asked whether the claim "free UK Calls" and "FREE UK Calls for a year" were misleading. Why? 'Cos he argued that using the VoIP service effectively used up the 1 gig a month usage limit that applies to the BT Broadband Basic package.

And to be able to use the broadband service for other services meant buying additional time online. Hardly free now, is it?

To its credit, BT coughed to the slip saying they "had not intended to charge customers for the service, but they had not fully considered the impact of usage allowances on the ability to make free calls".

Which begs the question, is the UK's monster telco considering the impact of usage allowances for its services? After all, it's not just VoIP. The telco recently unveiled its hybrid mobile-cum-landline phone - BT Fusion - which can be hooked up to a BT Broadband line. And yesterday it announced plans to unveil video on demand over broadband from next year.

Yet these applications all hoover up usage limits and could make tomorrow's broadband experience extremely costly for unsuspecting users.

We're still waiting to hear back from our man at BT.

In the meantime the ASA has given its verdict on the matter: "The Authority was concerned that, although the promotion offered 'free calls', those calls depleted the monthly usage allowance that a broadband customer paid for on a monthly basis as part of their broadband package."

BT has been told "not to describe calls that depleted a consumer's usage allowance as 'free' and to state prominently in advertisements for BT Communicator that making telephone calls depleted a consumer's broadband usage allowance".

In a statement BT said: "The ASA have raised the concern that customers who have a usage allowance on their broadband should be aware that bandwidth is used when making a voice call using a VoIP solution, and therefore cannot be deemed as a 'free' call. In response, BT will be changing any future advertising to reflect this. ®

Related stories

BT hooks up with MS for broadband TV
Wanadoo broadband - 'you can go faster for less'
Tiny.com ticked off by ad watchdog
Tech ad complaints fall
'Irresponsible' Wanadoo TV ad banned
Telewest belted for 'spoof' mailshot

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.