Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/04/24/carphone_asa/
Carmoan Warehouse hits out at ad critics
'Competitors moaning already' says Dunstone
The boss of Carphone Warehouse has hit out at "moaning competitors" who have complained about the firm's ads plugging its "free broadband forever" service.
Last week El Reg reported how the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) had received more than a dozen complaints about ads promoting the cut-price phone and broadband combo from Carphone's telco TalkTalk.
A day later Charles Dunstone used his blog, Competitors moaning already!, to defend the firm's advertising and challenged rivals to "charge fairer prices to your customers instead of wasting your time trying get our advertising changed".
Dunstone wrote: "On the subject of our competitors, we understand the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) has received a number of complaints about our advertising (though we have yet to hear from them directly). We feel very comfortable that our advertising clearly and fairly explains the proposition. No doubt we will have to start defending our position from next week.
"However you look at it, our offer is so demonstrably cheaper than anything else on the market, I can't help asking our competitors - 'why don't you just charge fairer prices to your customers instead of wasting your time trying get our advertising changed?' I'll keep you posted with developments."
According to the latest update, the ASA has now received more than 40 complaints, although just two are from industry rivals. A spokesman for the ASA said dominant UK telco BT and ISP Tiscali had submitted complaints with the rest coming from members of the public.
The complaints broadly centre on Carphone's use of the term "free" (how can it be free if we have to pay a £30 connection fee, they say) and "forever" (it's only "forever" as long as users are subscribed to the Carphone service). People have also written to the ad watchdog to question the lack of availability of the service (it will only be available to 70 per cent of the population at that price).
The ASA also confirmed that it has now opened a formal investigation into the complaints. A decision on whether the ads breach advertising guidelines is due later in the summer. ®