Will there finally be an end to 'unlimited' data advertising?

17 June 2010

Bitterwallet - unlimited mobile data advertising complaintsThe 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.


  • TH1882FC
    Got my PAC and confirmation I wouldn't have to pay early termination fee from vodafone this morning...just in time to blag an unlimited sim before they are extinct..
  • Issac M.
    ASA = limp dick As a self-regulatory body they cannot inflict financial punishment or place an absolute ban on a misleading ad No wonder they waited for the mobile operators to all but drop unlimited web tarrifs before announcing their comprehensive review. There's no fight left to be had, is there? Pussies.
  • Howard M.
    No no, no-no no no, no no no-no, no no extra minutes for speech impediment sufferers
  • Brad
    Is it me or all these so called 'regulatory bodys' basically al oad of wank, ASA FSA Samecunts.
  • Yue
    WTF is dis?
  • Peter F.
    Regulatory bodies are comprised of ex-industry directors who are still mates with all the current industry directors, so, how many jollies do you think it takes to get a regulatory body to ignore certain industry failings?
  • singhster
    Get the OFT on the case, they'll sort it out! Tossers.
  • TH1882FC
    Vodafone are also blocking streaming sites, and claiming its due to offcom, yet they are the only network that block tvcatchup etc. even if you have had the adult content bar lifted you cannot view them over 3g, so you can watch bukake but not tikkabilla
  • Klingelton
    @TH1882FC it's up to voda what they allow on their networks. If they don't allow the customer to choose, they customer will leave - if it affects them at all.
  • -]
    The customer can't leave if they are locked into a contract. It ISN'T up to voda what they allow - they either supply the internet or they don't.

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