ASA bans Lycamobile advert following unlimited usage claims

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Ethnic MVNO’s website pushed unlimited bundles when in fact there was a cap, with customers exceeding this charged at standard rates

The Advertising Standars Authority (ASA) has banned an avert from Lycamobile after it claimed it offered unlimited allowances.

Lycamobile’s website included descriptions of various ‘All In One’ bundles. Each ad stated “Unlimited UK calls and texts…Unlimited UK data…Unlimited Lyca to Lyca calls and texts…Unlimited calls and texts to…”. The ad then listed a number of countries.

However, an unnamed complainant challenged whether the unlimited claims were misleading, as the small print stated: “Unlimited usage is subject to a fair usage of 3,000 minutes/texts/MB per month per SIM. Usage in excess of your fair usage allowance will be charged at standard rates”.

Lycamobile challenged the complaint, and said the bundle offers were displayed clearly and contained information to enable consumers to make an informed decision on whether or not to buy the product. It said that although the promotion was titled ‘Unlimited’, that would not be interpreted literally when in combination with a fair use policy (FUP), which it did not believe was an undue restriction. It added all customers would receive unlimited calls, texts and data up to the FUP.

The ethnic MVNO said the small print provided consumers with important information, informed them of what they could expect from the offer and what happened once the offer expired. It said it was reasonable to expect the average consumer would take note of the fair use text before deciding to buy. It said as the use of unlimited claims together with a FUP was common in the telecoms industry, consumers would be aware unlimited elements of a package would be subject to a FUP.

Lycamobile stated that 2.72 per cent of its customers who purchased an ‘All In One’ bundle used the product up to the fair use cap.

However, the ASA judged the ad to misleading. It said the claim “Unlimited” featured several times in the description of each bundle and that it emphasised there were no restrictions on users’ calls, texts or data, in terms of additional charges.

It also noted Lycamobile’s assertion that only 2.72 per cent of its users reached their allocated allowances but as those customers had exceeded the allowances and had been subject to additional charges, it considered the service could not be described as “unlimited”.

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