EE has been referred to Trading Standards following claims its adverts are misleading as they imply superfast speeds offered by its 4G network are available in areas not currently served by EE 4G.
A complaint was made by a consumer in Plymouth who saw an advert in an EE store which stated “4G is here”.
The operator told TechWeekEurope the advert had been displayed in error and it had since been removed. It added that no such adverts would be visible in any store in areas without 4G service, but said it would continue to advertise its “new” network nationally.
“The poster claims that the iPhone 5 on the superfast 4G system is available now in Plymouth and is five times faster than phones on 3G. That is a lie,” he said. “I believe it is misleading in the extreme to suggest that an iPhone 5 bought in Plymouth would work on 4G and operate five times faster than on 3G when that service is not available here and no date has yet been announced for its introduction.”
Trading standards officers appeared to agree, suggesting this could be a nationwide problem. They then referred the complaint to their Hertfordshire counterparts as EE is based in Hatfield.
“We have launched a new brand, across the UK, as well as a new 4G service that will be across 16 cities by Christmas, and will have rolled out to 98 percent of the population by the end of 2014,” an EE spokesperson told TechWeekEurope. “For this reason it is important that we raise awareness of the new brand and network, through a national campaign across the UK, even in those areas that do not yet have 4G coverage.
“We have over 700 EE stores across the country and would like to stress this was an isolated error for which we apologise. The poster has since been removed.”
EE launched its 4G service two weeks ago and it is currently available in London, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Southampton and Glasgow, with another five due to come online before Christmas, with another five cities due to come online before Christmas.
The news of an investigation will not be welcomed by EE, which has come under fire for the relatively high cost of its 4G prince plans and the absence of unlimited data bundles. Last week, it also announced its SIM-only plans would be postponed by two weeks due to delays in the testing process.
EE is currently the only commercial 4G network operating in the UK, although other operators are expected to launch similar services next spring.
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