ASA upholds complaints on T-Mobile adverts

Network's "truly unlimited" service deemed to be misleading due to P2P and tethering restrictions
Kerry Butters

October 6, 2011

The Advertising Standards Agency have ruled that T-Mobile’s claims to provide “Truly Unlimited” data plans are misleading to consumers.

The mobile company’s July ads, on their website, press and posters, claimed that customers would not be subject to download limits on their monthly price plans.

Their terms and conditions supported the claims, as they did not have any Fair Usage Policy (FUP) attached and so were truly unlimited.

However, the terms did say that users would not be allowed to use their phone as a modem and it is this that ASA says makes all the difference.

The press ad said: “Thanks to truly unlimited Internet, Dave won’t get into trouble for watching the highlights. Well, not with us, anyway. Unlimited internet on all plans over £25.”

However, in the tiny terms and conditions, it said: “Truly unlimited” means use as many MG/GB as you like, but you can’t use your phone as a modem (tethering), for peer to peer file sharing or for making internet phone calls”.

This led to complaints to ASA as consumers believed that there were restrictions placed on the service, making it not “Truly Unlimited”.

Whilst T-Mobile (trading as Everything Everywhere) defended their position by saying that most of their customers used their mobiles for nothing more than browsing, ASA didn’t agree.

T-Mobile insisted that the “exclusions related to unusual types of internet access” but ASA still felt that the ads were misleading.

The telecommunications company also said that they have specific mobile broadband plans which were designed for “tethering” and “better designed to let customers use their handsets as a modem.”

However, the ASA considered “that ‘Truly Unlimited Internet’ was a very strong claim, and went beyond a typical ‘unlimited’ internet claim, which (they) considered consumers understood would be likely to be subject to some limitations such as a FUP.”

They also said that any restrictions placed in the terms and conditions “would be contrary to a consumer’s expectations.”

Therefore, they concluded, the claim was misleading.


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