ASA Slaps 3UK Over Phony Ad Claims

The mobile operator’s claim that it offers the best network for smartphones cannot be substantiated

Mobile operator 3UK has been rapped over the knuckles by the UK’s advertising watchdog, because of an advertisement claiming it has the best network for smartphones and mobile broadband.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ordered the operator to remove the ad, which was part of a regional press campaign, featuring text that stated: “Don’t just take our word for it. We’re rated No.1 network for mobile Internet speed and value by smartphone users.”

The ad cited a YouGov report entitled ‘Smartphone, mobile internet, experience report wave 4 (Sept 10)’. However, a customer reportedly complained that the ad was misleading because it did not set out how the comparison with other networks could be verified.

Misleading wording

Although the ASA decided that the speed claims were not misleading in themselves, it noted that the wording could be misinterpreted to imply that a comparison with other networks had taken place.

“We considered the claims in the ad, ‘Better for smartphones’ and ‘… No.1 network for mobile internet speed and value …’, were likely to be understood by consumers to compare 3’s products and services with those of their competitors”, it said.

The watchdog also noted that the reference to the YouGov report was inappropriate, as the report has not been made publicly available. It ruled that the ad should not appear again in its current form.

3UK is now looking into getting the YouGov information online.

Phony carrier claims

This is not the first time a mobile operator has had a run in with the ASA over its advertising claims. In July 2010, Orange incurred the regulator’s wrath over an advert that claimed Orange’s 3G network had a better reach than its rivals. At that time it was 3 that challenged whether the claim could be substantiated, because it believed that it had the largest 3G network in the UK, based on population coverage.

Vodaphone was also told off last year for advert claims concerning its Sure Signal femtocell, which showed a man leaning out of a window on his phone and the slogan: “Only Vodafone can guarantee mobile signal in your home.”

O2 is also currently under scrutiny, after a customer complained about an email, which said: “Thanks for playing O2 Top-Up Surprises. And for picking our Concierge Travel saver offer. To get going with a £150 per person discount, just visit and choose your holiday from the range on offer.”

The customer told the ASA that the maximum discount was £80, and the advertised discount was therefore not genuine.