Phones 4u ‘Upgrades for u and u and u’ ads banned by the ASA

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Advertising regulator told retailer it should have made limitations to its upgrade deal clearer to customers

Two Phones 4u TV adverts have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for misleading customers into thinking anyone could upgrade with the retailer when in fact it is only applicable to operators it has agreements with.

The advertising regulator concluded the fact customers on networks including Three and Tesco Mobile were not eligible to upgrade with the retailer without changing networks was not made clear enough in the ‘Upgrades for u and u and u’ campaign.

Phones 4u argued that the words ‘everyone can upgrade’ did not featured in the advertisements and the statements ‘T&Cs and exclusions may apply’ or T&Cs apply’ appeared at the bottom of the adverts. It also told the ASA it believed customers would take ‘upgrade’ to mean a new phone, which Three and Tesco customers could get, they would just have to sign a new contract with a different network to do so.

The regulator concluded: “We understood that for consumers who were not already with one of their partner networks they would have to switch networks to upgrade with them. We agreed that consumers would understand ‘upgrade’ to refer to getting a new phone, but considered that they would not expect to have to change networks to do so.

“We considered, in the context of an ad that implied everyone could upgrade with Phones 4 U, the fact that upgrades were only available on certain networks was significant material information that should have been made clear.

“However, we did not consider these made clear that it was only possible to upgrade on certain networks. We concluded that the ads were misleading.”

Phones 4u head of brand communications Caspar Nelson said: “We launched the ‘Upgrades for 4u and u and u’ ad campaign to communicate to customers that it was possible to upgrade their handset at Phones 4u, as there was a common misconception it could only be done with their existing network provider. The ASA has requested we clearly state which mobile networks we are able to offer handset upgrades on, which we have done. We will therefore continue to run the campaign.”

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