Three has been told to warn customers of potential future contract price rises in advertising, after a recent campaign was found 'misleading' by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Mid-contract price rises have become an emotive issue among consumers and Ofcom has launched a consultation into the issue after complaints from the public. One consumer made a complaint to the ASA about a leaflet from Three outlining a number of contract offers, including its £30 per month One Plan. The complainant said the ad was misleading because it did not make clear the operator could raise the monthly cost during the life of the tariff.
The ASA acknowledged Three's defence that it had the right to increase prices in line with inflation and that its right to do so was outlined in the terms and conditions. However, because the prices were stated alongside the length of the contract, the ASA said consumers would be likely to assume prices would be fixed for its duration. It added that because the price of a contract was of 'significant importance' to consumers, the potential for an increase in the contract's price must be made clearer.
The ASA concluded the ad was misleading and said Three must make any potential price increases clear in future advertising.
A Three spokesman said: 'Our ability to increase recurring charges in line with RPI [inflation] is set out in our terms and conditions. We note the decision on a leaflet which was published in 2011. Ofcom is about to consult on price rises within the lifetime of a customer contract. We believe this is an opportunity to bring greater clarity and consistency across the industry for consumers rather than relying on ad hoc decision on individual communications.'
Author: Graeme Neill