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BT's 'six-month free broadband' offer is a big fat FIB - ads watchdog

Misleading advert banned in second ruling of 2013

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

BT misled customers by wrongly claiming that one of its broadband products was "free for six months", says Blighty's ad watchdog. This is the second time this year the national telco has been scolded by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The offending press advert boasted that "the UK's most complete broadband package" would be "free for six months", with text underneath that stated: "Then just £13 a month, plus your line rental at £14.60 a month."

However, the small print at the bottom of the ad read: "Offer ends 10/01/13. For new BT broadband customers only that sign up for an 18 month minimum term and pay BT line rental of £14.60 a month (rising to £15.45 on 05/01/13)." BT's telly ad carried similar claims for the same offer.

Two complainants challenged the telecoms giant's "free for six months" claim for being misleading because a line rental charge would be applied to the product - making it anything but free.

The ASA upheld those complaints and banned the ads from appearing again in that form.

BT admitted that its press and TV campaign could have been clearer, but it insisted the ambiguity was due to an "unintended consequence" of its "attempts to comply with a recent ASA adjudication, relating to another telecoms provider, regarding the prominence of line rental" - in other words, BT drew up the ad after an unnamed rival was rapped over line rental costs, but still managed to fall foul of the watchdog's code of conduct.

"We told BT [to make] clear the extent of the commitment consumers must make to take advantage of 'free' offers in future," the ASA stated.

Just last week, the national telco was lambasted by the watchdog, which found that BT had "misled" customers on when its broadband products would be available in their areas. ®

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