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Advertising Standards What?

I thought you might be interested to see this.  If you’ve a mobile Smartphone you’ll know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. I just wrote to the advertising standards agency in the UK to complain about the farcical figures that one particular mobile phone supplier (they’re all the same) quotes for STANDBY times on the phones.  On the website in question – they claim as just ONE EXAMPLE, 7.9 days standby for the Touch Diamond phone.

The reality of course is that these phones rarely last more than a single day without a charge. All of the suppliers are the same – they simply copy the manufacturer’s farcical claims – and repeat them on their websites and literature.  To me this was a clear case of misleading the public – but apparently not.

Here is the reply from the ASA – verbatim…

Dear Mr Scargill

Thank you for your recent complaint about the specifications of a mobile phone on the [providers] website.

I’m sorry to tell you that we are unable to deal with your complaint because our Code only applies to certain kinds of material on websites.  They are:      

  • online ads in space sold by the website owner to a third party e.g. banner and pop-up ads
  • sponsored search results (i.e. the links advertisers pay search engines to offer when you enter particular search terms)
  • sales promotions such as free gifts and prize competitions

The Code does not apply to other parts of an organisation’s website because either they are forms of editorial material or they carry material that consumers have chosen to access in much the same way as they would walk into a shop and ask for information.  The ASA does not regulate either of these areas. 

I would suggest in the first instance that you contact the mobile phone manufacturer for their response to your query, as it appears that all the companies selling the phone simply reproduce the phone specifications given by the manufacturer.  If they cannot help, you may wish to contact your local Trading Standards Department whose details can be obtained from your local area phone book or at www.tradingstandards.gov.uk.

Our website, www.asa.org.uk, contains more information about the ASA and the work we do.  I hope you find this useful and are able to pursue your complaint.

Yours sincerely

Laura Edwards

Complaints Executive

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