MSE News

Vodafone ad banned after suggesting customers could leave contracts at any time

A Vodafone advert has been banned after the advertising watchdog said it misleadingly implied that customers could leave a phone contract after the first 30 days.

The television ad, first broadcast in July, featured the actor Martin Freeman demanding to leave a contract, saying: "I haven't got the strength to keep arguing with you," before a voice-over said: "Breaking up's never easy but, unlike other networks, Vodafone has a 30-day service guarantee, so if you don't love us, you can leave us."

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 11 complaints from viewers who said the ad misleadingly implied that customers could leave their contract at any time, even though the service guarantee only applied to the first 30 days of a new deal.

Another Vodafone advert was banned in September over misleading speed claims.

The advert must not appear again

The ASA said the ad gave the impression that Freeman's character was wanting to leave a contract that had been in place for some time, but the service guarantee acted as a 30-day cooling-off period.

It said: "After that point, consumers would face those same difficulties in trying to leave their contract with Vodafone, and whilst we acknowledged Vodafone's reference to the small print which referred to the terms and conditions on the website, we did not consider that this altered the impression presented by the ad.

"Therefore, because the ad implied that consumers were entitled to exercise the guarantee at any time and that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading."

The ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form.

How long have I got to leave a mobile contract?

Vodafone announced in June that it had increased its cooling-off period – the time in which, after agreeing to a contract, you can leave without paying a penalty – to 30 days.

All firms have to offer a cooling-off period of at least 14 days, though some companies offer longer periods.

For example, BT offers a 30-day money back guarantee which is limited to Sim-only plans.

What does Vodafone say?

A Vodafone spokesman said: "We already make clear that the 30 days is from the start of a customer's contract in our terms and conditions, and will also make sure this is totally clear in our marketing."