The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint made against Tiscali that it broadcast a misleading radio advertisement. BT and two members of the public challenged the ad on the grounds that the emphasis of the 30 second advertisement was on a £9.99 introductory price, and the significant condition that the price rose to £14.99 after three months was not mentioned until the end. It was felt it was difficult to hear.
Tiscali believed the ad was not misleading because all details of the offer were read out clearly in the disclaimer, which included the words: “Subject to availability, non cable phone line required. Up to 2Mb. £9.99 a month for the first three months, then £14.99”.
Tiscali argued that their competitors advertised introductory pricing offers in exactly the same way, and pointed out that a current BT national press ad displayed a price of £8.95, with the £17.99 thereafter price within their disclaimer in very small print. As there was a lot to fit in to 30 seconds, the disclaimer was read more quickly than the main body of the advertisement.
The Radio Advertising Clearance Centre had cleared the ad for broadcast noting that previously the same advertisement had not received complaints. It pointed out, however, that it reviewed the script rather than the audio recording and, as such, the terms and conditions would have been expected to be clearly audible.
The ASA noted Tiscali’s argument that, although it was spoken more quickly than all of the preceding information in the ad, the £14.99 price increase after three months was spoken clearly. However, the authority also noted that the main emphasis of the ad was on the £9.99 introductory price, which was repeated many times and at a louder volume than the single reference to the £14.99 price which, in contrast, was mentioned once, quickly and softly.
As it was considered that the increase to £14.99 after three months was a significant condition that should have been made clear in the advertisement, the ASA concluded that the ad was misleading.
It was ruled that the advertisement breached CAP (Broadcast) Radio Advertising Standards Code Section 2 Rule 3 (Misleadingness), and that it must not reappear in its current form.