ASA explain what 'free' means - now let's talk about the definition of 'unlimited' please

30 November 2011

asa_logo The Advertising Standards Authority have been amending their dictionary again, clarifying just what the word ‘free’ means, in case none of us were sure. Poor old John Lewis have fallen foul of the their revised definition, following a complaint by Dixons.

The judgement comes on the back of a John Lewis advert that touted a ‘free’ two year warranty with Apple computers, but the ASA took issue with this, blaring...

“Marketers must not describe an element of a package as “free” if that element was included in the package price unless consumers were likely to regard it as an additional benefit because it had recently been added to the package without increasing its price.”

So that’s John Lewis dealt with. Now then, who can think of a word that describes the ASA getting its teeth into a pernickety piece of word-play like the John Lewis ‘free’ claim while STILL maintaining that it’s fine for mobile internet providers to use the word ‘unlimited’ to describe data packages that are heavily capped?

TOPICS:   Freebies

9 comments

  • bananahammock
    "So that’s John Lewis dealt with. Now then, who can think of a word that describes the ASA getting its teeth into a pernickety piece of word-play like the John Lewis ‘free’ claim while STILL maintaining that it’s fine for mobile internet providers to use the word ‘unlimited’ to describe data packages that are heavily capped?" Bananahammock
  • RazorD
    This makes no sense to me. It is free. Just because they've done it for years, doesn't mean it isn't free.
  • maxtweenie
    Now they've "sorted" JL out, can they have a go at Sky about their advert for a "free" wireless broadband connector. The bar stewards have not made it clear that the offer isn't available to existing customers, resulting in hundreds of complaints to the ASA. No-one expects the ASA to get anywhere. If that shit James Murdoch can lie through his teeth to a committee of MP's and get away with it, a few toothless numpties at the ASA should be no problem.
  • Charlie D.
    Of all the shops in all the world the ASA has to go after John Lewis. FFS!! Low hanging fruit, they've heard of it. PS No surprise the whiners were Dixons, that paragon of customer service.
  • Ravi
    It's not the same for their tv guarantees, they it as 'free'. When asked to price match competitors, say Dixons, JL will say "we can price match as long as the cost of Dixon's 5 year guarantee is added on". Why does the 5 year guarantee need to be added on if JL say theirs is free?
  • Ravi
    they don't treat it as free*
  • Dick
    I agree with Ravi. They should be allowed to say it is free, if they sell at the same price as a competitor and also give a two year warranty that the competitor does not give. Especially when they say they do price matching, then do not price match a product if there is no equivalent warranty, which is a free add-on with John Lewis. Just because John Lewis have good customer service does not mean they should be allowed to weasel out of things like this. The ASA should go after them if they break rules.
  • Simon
    I wouldn't even shop in dixons if everything was free
  • Pot
    Hello Kettle, you are black Regards Pot

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