Feeds

BT thrashed for 'free' VoIP call claim

Usage limits bite telco on backside

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
YOU are the threat: True confessions of real-life sysadmins
Who will save the systems from the men and women who save the systems from you?
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.