MSE News

Three advert banned for claiming customers could use phones abroad at 'no extra cost'

An advert on Three's website which claimed customers could "roam the world in 71 destinations at no extra cost" has been banned, after the advertising watchdog said it was likely to mislead.

A complaint about the advert said that consumers were only able to use up to 13GB of their data allowance on their monthly contract (12GB when on a pay-as-you-go tariff) while roaming and challenged whether the phrase "at no extra cost" was misleading.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) acknowledged that some customers, who had a data allowance that was greater than 12GB or 13GB, could be charged extra for exceeding that usage while abroad. It ruled that the advert must not appear again in its current form.

MoneySavingExpert.com first warned of this issue before the roaming rules were introduced last year – Three to extend 'Feel At Home' offer – but some WILL still pay to use data in EU after roaming charges 'ban'.

See how you can use your phone abroad for less by checking our Cheap Mobile and Data Roaming guide.

Why was the advert banned?

Three said that the claim "use your phone abroad at no extra cost" had been used since 2014 and throughout that period there had always been additional detail and caveats associated with it, as it was intended only for holiday use.

It also said that its fair use limit of 12GB was far in excess of their average customer data usage on holiday (approximately 0.75GB per month in a Go Roam destination) and also over six times the average monthly data used per customer in the UK, calculated by Ofcom at 1.9GB a month.

Three also provided data which it said demonstrated very few customers would exceed the fair use limit, and explained that it did include full information on the terms and conditions further down the advert.

The ASA however said that consumers would understand the claim "Go Roam the world in 71 destinations at no extra cost" to mean that they were able to use their allowance with no extra charges in 71 countries across the world and that this wasn't the case.

It therefore decided the advert was likely to mislead.

What does Three say?

A Three UK spokesperson said: "Go Roam has saved our customers billions of pounds since its launch in 2013, years ahead of other operators being forced to offer roaming at no extra cost.

"We are proud of the product which was recently named Best Network for Roaming at the Mobile Choice Awards. We stand behind our claim as the fair use policy was carefully set at a very high level so that it doesn't affect the overwhelming majority of people."