Will there finally be an end to 'unlimited' data advertising?
The days of phone companies screwing consumers may soon be over, at least as far as claims of 'unlimited' data go. It's only taken a few years, but the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has come around to the idea that service providers might be taking the piss when they say a service is unlimited, and then impose conditions to the contrary. Who'd have thought, eh? It's not like they received hundreds of complaints about the issue, is it? Oh.
The ASA told New Media Age will begin a comprehensive review of how data services are marketed. The ASA won't carry out the review itself as it can only rule on complaints rather than determine policy, so the British Code of Advertising Practice and Committee of Advertising Practice will be responsible.
“It’s important that we look at this on a broader policy level with service providers, other regulators and consumer groups, rather than relying on individual ASA rulings that focus on a particular service on one platform,” said the ASA. “Therefore, the ASA has invited CAP and BCAP to review broadband speed and ‘unlimited’ use claims.”
“We’ve looked at a number of complaints about individual ads in the telecoms sector regarding access speeds and usage limits and found that applying a single policy to how telecoms providers advertise can pose significant challenges.”
Really? Significant challenges? Oddly, dictionaries have coped well with the definition of 'unlimited' since their inception, so quite why the ASA has struggled to rule conclusively on its meaning in the past is a mystery. New Media Age has an interesting quote from our friends at Vodafone, too:
“Since last December we’ve got rid of the ‘unlimited’ line from all our internet packages, whether it’s on a phone or with a dongle. It’s confusing for customers to get sold an unlimited package and then have to get used to a ‘fair usage’ policy.”
See, not meaning to re-open a particularly fresh wound, but avid readers of Bitterwallet will be aware that those claims are a complete lie; just last month, Vodafone was still advertising mobile tariffs with 'unlimited' data, when it was nothing of the sort. It's also interesting to see them admit that marketing a capped data bundle as unlimited is 'confusing' - a back-handed admission from a network provider that they shouldn't have tried bullshitting their customers in the first place.