Complaint: 11/131

Vodafone Website Advertisement

Details

Complainants
A. Groves
advertisers
Vodafone
Year
2011
Media
Digital Marketing
Product
Telecommunications
Clauses
Decision
No Grounds to Proceed
ASA Links
Website Listing
Decision Document

Document


DECISION

Chairman's Ruling

21 March 2011


Complaint 11/131



Complainant: A. Groves
Advertisement: Vodafone New Zealand Limited

Complaint: The website advertisement for Vodafone provided information about the various broadband plans they offered. The website stated, in part:

"Broadband & Home phone calling bundles

$80.00

per month

...

What you get with Easy pack

...

Get more broadband data by upgrading with Double your Data

If you find 5GB isn't enough, you can double your data limit to 10GB for an additional $10.20 if you just need a bit more as a one-off, or you can change to a bigger Pack at anytime during the month."

...

"Home phone lines & standard calling

  • Free local calls, White pages(R) directory listing and access to all your favourite phone features like voicemail.

..."

Complainant, A. Groves, said that: The "double your data" limit offer, like the voicemail service, was not part of the package but an optional extra that attracted an additional charge. The Complainant continued: "To advertise an itemised list under a statement such as 'This is what you get with Easy pack' which is synonymous with saying 'This is what you get for $80,' then renege on the statement charging the public an additional cost is both unfair and deceitful."

The relevant provisions were Basic Principle 4 and Rule 2 of the Code of Ethics.

The Chairman noted the Complainant's concerns that the advertisement was misleading as not all of the features listed were included in the plan price. Turning first to the statement that said "Free local calls, White pages(R) directory listing and access to all your favourite phone features like voicemail," the Chairman was of the view that most people would realise that phone extras such as voicemail attracted an additional cost and it was unlikely that the majority of customers would assume that a service like voicemail would be included in any plan at no fee.

Addressing the second issue the Complainant raised, the Chairman was of the view that the "double your data" offer was unambiguous and the price was clearly stated. Therefore, the Chairman said that the advertisement did not contain anything which was likely to deceive or mislead consumers, and was not in breach of Rule 2 of the Code of Ethics. She also said that although the advertisement may have been a cause of annoyance for the Complainant, in her view it met the due sense of social responsibility required by Basic Principle 4 and there was no apparent breach of the Advertising Codes.

Accordingly, the Chairman ruled that there were no grounds to proceed.


Chairman's Ruling: Complaint No Grounds to Proceed

2011_13101.png

DECISION


Chairperson's Ruling

3 May 2011



Complaint 11/131


Appeal 11/029

Complainant: A. Groves
Advertisement: Vodafone New Zealand Limited

Applicant: A. Groves


Complaint: The website advertisement for Vodafone provided information about the various broadband plans they offered. The website stated, in part:

"Broadband & Home phone calling bundles

$80.00

per month

...

What you get with Easy pack

...

Get more broadband data by upgrading with Double your Data

If you find 5GB isn't enough, you can double your data limit to 10GB for an additional $10.20 if you just need a bit more as a one-off, or you can change to a bigger Pack at anytime during the month."

...

"Home phone lines & standard calling

  • Free local calls, White pages(R) directory listing and access to all your favourite phone features like voicemail.

..."

Complainant, A. Groves, said that: The "double your data" limit offer, like the voicemail service, was not part of the package but an optional extra that attracted an additional charge. The Complainant continued: "To advertise an itemised list under a statement such as 'This is what you get with Easy pack' which is synonymous with saying 'This is what you get for $80,' then renege on the statement charging the public an additional cost is both unfair and deceitful."

The relevant provisions were Basic Principle 4 and Rule 2 of the Code of Ethics.

The Chairman of the Complaints Board Ruled on 21 March 2011 that there were No Grounds for the Complaint to Proceed.

Part of the Ruling said:

The Chairman noted the Complainant's concerns that the advertisement was misleading as not all of the features listed were included in the plan price. Turning first to the statement that said "Free local calls, White pages(R) directory listing and access to all your favourite phone features like voicemail," the Chairman was of the view that most people would realise that phone extras such as voicemail attracted an additional cost and it was unlikely that the majority of customers would assume that a service like voicemail would be included in any plan at no fee.

Addressing the second issue the Complainant raised, the Chairman was of the view that the "double your data" offer was unambiguous and the price was clearly stated. Therefore, the Chairman said that the advertisement did not contain anything which was likely to deceive or mislead consumers, and was not in breach of Rule 2 of the Code of Ethics. She also said that although the advertisement may have been a cause of annoyance for the Complainant, in her view it met the due sense of social responsibility required by Basic Principle 4 and there was no apparent breach of the Advertising Codes.

Accordingly, the Chairman ruled that there were no grounds to proceed.


Application for Appeal

The Complainant, A. Groves, submitted an application for appeal:

This is an appeal being lodged regarding Complaint Board Chairman's ruling on following grounds.

In complaint submitted, no part of Vodafone's advertisement is purported to be ambiguous!!!

With respect to one statement in Vodafone's advertising - Deemed contentious;

"Free local calls, White pages(R) directory listing and access to all your favourite phone features like voicemail.".

Stating "Free" once in the sentence and without repeating it, Vodafone makes 3 free offers:

  1. Free local calls
  2. Free White pages directory listing
  3. Free access to all phone features including voicemail

As per English Language Grammar rules, the following is irrefutable;

  • It is one sentence in bullet point form ending with a full stop
  • It is one sentence containing 3 components ending with a full stop
  • 1st component is followed with a comma, 2nd and 3rd components are joined with the conjuction "and"
  • It is one sentence beginning with a descriptive adjective, "Free"
  • Unless otherwise stated or clarified, jurisdiction of stated adjective "Free", ends with the full stop, not before
  • Unless otherwise stated or clarified, "Free" is all encompassing and applies to all contents of sentence until the full stop is reached, not before it
  • Finally and to re-iterate, unless otherwise stated or clarified, "Free" applies to "all your favourite phone features like voicemail"

The ASA is advised to consult qualified English Language Professor to verify that as it stands, this is indeed an offer of 3 components for free, at no additional cost. Or try asking at "http://www.plainenglishpeople.co.nz"

Summarised History of Events;

  • Vodafone reneged on free offer of phone features insisting on charging additional cost
  • Vodafone insisted it is not free maintaining advertisement does not offer it for free
  • Vodafone refused to correct their advertisement to indicate availability at extra cost


Whilst it is Vodafone's prerogative to decide whether phone features are free or not,
Vodafone may not charge additional extra cost for phone features (voicemail) while advertising it for free. Conversely, should Vodafone wish to charge extra cost, Vodafone must correct misleading advertising!

If, as is the case, Vodafone chooses to renege on its unambiguous offer for free "phone features", then this advertisement is a lie deemed false and misleading as evidenced by Vodafone's intent to charge extra cost and subsequent refusal to fix misleading advertisement-

Regarding "double your data" and ASA's obfuscation:

  • One can but concur with Chairman's view that "double your data" is unambiguous with price clearly stated.
  • In complaint submitted, "double your data" was not purported to be ambiguous or deceitful and was neither contested or disputed.
  • In complaint submitted, a ruling for "double your data" was not sought.
  • "double your data" was reported and cited in order to demonstrate selective editing of advertisement by addition of extra 45 words for "double your data" while failing to add one clarifying word (such as "optional") for home phone line features as was requested.
  • In the complaint, a submission of five pages, the statement "<< Contentious Statement <<"underlined and highlighted in bold lettering, appears only once.
  • In the complaint, the statement "<< Contentious Statement<<" appears on page one and is pointing directly to the advertisement's statement "Free local calls. White pages(R) directory listing and access to all your favourite phone features like voicemail" the focus of complaint.
  • The statement "<< Contentious Statement <<" does not mean advertisement is either ambiguous or unambiguous.
  • The statement "<< Contentious Statement <<" means there is a major problem with that part of the advertisement.
  • The statement "<< Contentious Statement <<" does not appear any where else in the complaint nor does it appear beside or point to "double your data" issue.
  • A ruling was sought only for home phone line features as pointed out by statement "<< Contentious Statement<<"
  • For the record and for those who may not understand it - Embedded html links 0exist mainly on internet websites. Generally speaking, those are links which if clicked on, will transfer the user/reader to another page/area on the website displaying other/further content.
  • Whilst it is Vodafone's prerogative to tailor edit their advertising, it is also reasonable to cite comparative information ("double your data") demonstrating Vodafone's selective and unnecessary elaboration of an option adding 45 words when said option already had an embedded html link, linking it to full information regarding said option with one mouse click.
  • It is perfectly reasonable to cite and provide comparative information ("double your data") when the stated contentious statement itself had no embedded html link directly linking it to any information to clarify it - and still doesn't to this day - An applicable question is WHY?
  • Given Vodafone's denial "phone features" is advertised as free, it is perfectly reasonable to cite and provide comparative information ("double your data") demonstrating Vodafone's contrasting refusal to add one single clarifying word such as "optional" for phone features.


In complaint submitted, the use of the statement "<< Contentious Statement <<" is indicative that every endeavour was made to ensure that the focus of the complaint was clearly identified, i.e. charging extra cost for phone features by Vodafone, when advertised as free.

Clearly, intent of citing "double your data" as supporting comparative evidence was misread and misconstrued by Complaints Board, effectively shifting focus of complaint by inappropriately determining "double your data" unambiguous and inoffensive when not deemed so in the complaint, thus diminishing from complaint, while dismissing main focus of complaint "phone features" with inapplicable generalisations and assumptions, proof is given below.

How is it possible that the Complaints Board could get it so wrong?

Regarding primary issue and focus of complaint "phone features":

It was the Chairman's view that
Remark 1
"most people would realise that phone extras such as voicemail attracted an additional cost"

With respect to Remark 1:
In the reality of our free market, nothing is for free. Everything is paid for as part of package and marketing plan. Whether a product, service, or component is advertised as free or not, is none other than a ploy and play on words designed to lure potential customers (as part of marketing plan). Which explains existence of ASA, to curb unscrupulous predatory operators.

In today's changing world, thanks to technology and its effect on our free market coupled with streamlining of product pricing and marketing concepts (the four "P's"), one may not make assumptions based on how products or services were priced or packaged 10 to 20 years ago.

Who would have thought that "unlimited national calls" or "unlimited international calls to one country" would come as bonus for free? Following is no surprise!

Orcon offer 5Gb broadband and a landline for $70 together with a choice of one from four options, including "unlimited national calls" - Please see "bestdealever" promo ending 30/4/11.

Who would have thought "phone features" like voicemail, would come for free? No surprise!

Xnet have for years offered, as stated in their webpage "for free", a myriad of 15 "home phone features", all for free. The entire lot if so desired, at no extra cost! - Please view at "http://www.xnet.co.nz/vfx/features.shtml".

Clearly and in the absence of supporting figures, Chairman's view is invalid!
It was also the Chairman's view that
Remark 2
"unlikely that the majority of customers would assume that a service like voicemail would be included in any plan at no fee"

With respect to Remark 2:
That ASA rulings are predicated by the existence of a majority of customers and their
assumptions is remarkable. Be that as it may, the following is presented as mitigating factors with reference to the said "assumed" "majority".

Due to proliferation of mobile phone plans in last 20 years, there is a generation that has opted out of having "home phone lines" and those are unaware of "home phone features" costs (if any) until they seek it, if they ever do.

On yearly basis there is a percentage of population, specifically, those leaving parent homes to set up their own home. Those have no idea of what costs are and wouldn't have a clue about "phone features" costs (if any) because until then (if ever), they never had to pay for it. They weren't born with that knowledge nor was/is it taught at schools as a topic.

There is significant number of transients in NZ. Those are international students who come to NZ to study for a minimum of one year at a time. Not to mention standard educational schools and universities, this is evidenced by the existence of numerous other schools in the business of and dedicated to catering for such student courses and needs. Similarly, such students would not have prior knowledge of local costs for "home phone features" (if any) until arrival.

Last but not least, there are in excess of 24,000 new migrants entering this country every year. Those would not have a clue about local costs of "home phone features" (if any).

All above categories of population added together are indicative of a majority of customers who are incapable of making assumption that voicemail is provided for a fee (or not). If that is not a majority, then it most certainly is a substantial figure, one which may not be dismissed!

Where does ASA derive "majority" figures from, what are such figures?

How is it possible for ASA to assert that voicemail and other phone features are available but only for a fee - When they have been and still are available for free?

Again - Chairman's view is invalid!

Notwithstanding above mentioned proof of existence of free phone features, the assertion that it is unlikely a majority of customers would assume Voicemail would be included at no fee, is questionable and untenable.

It is furthermore baffling to learn that the ASA has seemingly little regard for and is prepared to permit Vodafone's unethical, unfair machinations deceiving NZ consumers.

Has the complaints board not asked itself WHY Vodafone does not link "contentious statement" in advertisement (a simple 2cent procedure), to full detailed information about "phone features" as it does for "double your data". Has it not asked itself (or Vodafone), WHY does Vodafone choose to bury said information in advertisement making it hard to get to? Why doesn't Vodafone fix it, resist and refuse to fix it? - Is this not deliberate ploy luring people in with a lie?

Why was ASA created if not for and in the interests of the general public and the principles of fairness, as opposed to corporate entities and their interests!

If as reported by the Complaints Board, I was annoyed with Vodafone's behaviour. Is it not perfectly reasonable that I would also be annoyed with ASA's views which support Vodafone's outright lie permitting Vodafone to, by design, continue deceiving the public, luring potential customers in with a false promise, a lie, then reneging on offer seeking additional extra charge!

That instead of specifically declaring its view regarding the validity of said contentious advertisement statement in its ruling, the complaints board resorts to obfuscation with generalisations based on assumptions is disappointing if not beyond belief!

In the absence of specific statistical figures and given the complaint's supporting evidence provided, the Complaint Board Chairman's ruling based on invalidated generalised views and assumptions is without foundation. It is therefore requested that ruling be reconsidered.


Chairperson's Ruling

The Chairperson considered the application for appeal. He noted that there were five grounds upon which an appeal was able to proceed. These were listed at Clause 6(b) of the Second Schedule of the Advertising Standards Complaints Board Complaints Procedures and were as follows:

(i) The proper procedures have not been followed.

(ii) There is new evidence of sufficient substance to affect the decision.

(iii) Evidence provided to the Complaints Board has been misinterpreted to the extent that it has affected the decision.

(iv) The decision is against the weight of evidence.

(v) It is in the interests of natural justice that the matter be reheard.


Turning to the Complainant's application for appeal, the Chairperson noted that the Complainant provided detailed reasons outlining the mis-interpretation by the Chairman of the advertisement in light of their original complaint. The Chairperson noted that the Complainant had raised specific issues around the Chairman's interpretation of the placement and meaning of the comma in the sentence "Free local calls, White pages(R) directory listing and access to all your favourite phone features like voicemail." The Chairperson stated that where a comma is used, as in the case of the claim, it is the same as using the word "and", and the claim should be read in that light. Accordingly, the Chairperson said that this issue could be considered by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board (ASCB).

The Chairperson also considered that the issue with regard to data increase in the advertisement should be considered by the ASCB given the apparent absolute nature of the claim. The Chairperson was of the view that the evidence had been misinterpreted by the Chairman and that the matter should be placed before the ASCB for their consideration. Accordingly, the Chairperson ruled that the application for appeal should be accepted.

Chairperson's Ruling: application for appeal Accepted















2011_13100.png


DECISION
Chairman's Ruling

21 June 2011


Complaint 11/131

Appeal 11/029

Complainant: A. Groves

Advertisement: Vodafone New Zealand Limited

Applicant: A. Groves

Complaint: The website advertisement for Vodafone provided information about the various broadband plans they offered. The website stated, in part:

"Broadband & Home phone calling bundles

$80.00

per month

...

What you get with Easy pack

...

Get more broadband data by upgrading with Double your Data

If you find 5GB isn't enough, you can double your data limit to 10GB for an additional $10.20 if you just need a bit more as a one-off, or you can change to a bigger Pack at anytime during the month."

...

"Home phone lines & standard calling

  • Free local calls, White pages(R) directory listing and access to all your favourite phone features like voicemail.

..."

Complainant, A. Groves, said that: The "double your data" limit offer, like the voicemail service, was not part of the package but an optional extra that attracted an additional charge. The Complainant continued: "To advertise an itemised list under a statement such as 'This is what you get with Easy pack' which is synonymous with saying 'This is what you get for $80,' then renege on the statement charging the public an additional cost is both unfair and deceitful."

The relevant provisions were Basic Principle 4 and Rule 2 of the Code of Ethics.

The Chairman of the Advertising Standards Complaints Board Ruled on 21 March 2011 that there were No Grounds for the Complaint to Proceed.

Part of the Decision said:

The Chairman noted the Complainant's concerns that the advertisement was misleading as not all of the features listed were included in the plan price. Turning first to the statement that said "Free local calls, White pages(R) directory listing and access to all your favourite phone features like voicemail," the Chairman was of the view that most people would realise that phone extras such as voicemail attracted an additional cost and it was unlikely that the majority of customers would assume that a service like voicemail would be included in any plan at no fee.

Addressing the second issue the Complainant raised, the Chairman was of the view that the "double your data" offer was unambiguous and the price was clearly stated. Therefore, the Chairman said that the advertisement did not contain anything which was likely to deceive or mislead consumers, and was not in breach of Rule 2 of the Code of Ethics. She also said that although the advertisement may have been a cause of annoyance for the Complainant, in her view it met the due sense of social responsibility required by Basic Principle 4 and there was no apparent breach of the Advertising Codes.

Accordingly, the Chairman ruled that there were no grounds to proceed.

Application for Appeal

The Complainant, A. Groves, submitted an application for appeal:

This is an appeal being lodged regarding Complaint Board Chairman's ruling on following grounds.

In complaint submitted, no part of Vodafone's advertisement is purported to be ambiguous!!!

With respect to one statement in Vodafone's advertising - Deemed contentious;

"Free local calls, White pages(R) directory listing and access to all your favourite phone features like voicemail.".

Stating "Free" once in the sentence and without repeating it, Vodafone makes 3 free offers:

  1. Free local calls
  2. Free White pages directory listing
  3. Free access to all phone features including voicemail

As per English Language Grammar rules, the following is irrefutable;

  • It is one sentence in bullet point form ending with a full stop
  • It is one sentence containing 3 components ending with a full stop
  • 1st component is followed with a comma, 2nd and 3rd components are joined with the conjuction "and"
  • It is one sentence beginning with a descriptive adjective, "Free"
  • Unless otherwise stated or clarified, jurisdiction of stated adjective "Free", ends with the full stop, not before
  • Unless otherwise stated or clarified, "Free" is all encompassing and applies to all contents of sentence until the full stop is reached, not before it
  • Finally and to re-iterate, unless otherwise stated or clarified, "Free" applies to "all your favourite phone features like voicemail"

The ASA is advised to consult qualified English Language Professor to verify that as it stands, this is indeed an offer of 3 components for free, at no additional cost. Or try asking at "http://www.plainenglishpeople.co.nz"

Summarised History of Events;

  • Vodafone reneged on free offer of phone features insisting on charging additional cost
  • Vodafone insisted it is not free maintaining advertisement does not offer it for free
  • Vodafone refused to correct their advertisement to indicate availability at extra cost


Whilst it is Vodafone's prerogative to decide whether phone features are free or not,
Vodafone may not charge additional extra cost for phone features (voicemail) while advertising it for free. Conversely, should Vodafone wish to charge extra cost, Vodafone must correct misleading advertising!

If, as is the case, Vodafone chooses to renege on its unambiguous offer for free "phone features", then this advertisement is a lie deemed false and misleading as evidenced by Vodafone's intent to charge extra cost and subsequent refusal to fix misleading advertisement-

Regarding "double your data" and ASA's obfuscation:

  • One can but concur with Chairman's view that "double your data" is unambiguous with price clearly stated.
  • In complaint submitted, "double your data" was not purported to be ambiguous or deceitful and was neither contested or disputed.
  • In complaint submitted, a ruling for "double your data" was not sought.
  • "double your data" was reported and cited in order to demonstrate selective editing of advertisement by addition of extra 45 words for "double your data" while failing to add one clarifying word (such as "optional") for home phone line features as was requested.
  • In the complaint, a submission of five pages, the statement "<< Contentious Statement <<"underlined and highlighted in bold lettering, appears only once.
  • In the complaint, the statement "<< Contentious Statement<<" appears on page one and is pointing directly to the advertisement's statement "Free local calls. White pages(R) directory listing and access to all your favourite phone features like voicemail" the focus of complaint.
  • The statement "<< Contentious Statement <<" does not mean advertisement is either ambiguous or unambiguous.
  • The statement "<< Contentious Statement <<" means there is a major problem with that part of the advertisement.
  • The statement "<< Contentious Statement <<" does not appear any where else in the complaint nor does it appear beside or point to "double your data" issue.
  • A ruling was sought only for home phone line features as pointed out by statement "<< Contentious Statement<<"
  • For the record and for those who may not understand it - Embedded html links 0exist mainly on internet websites. Generally speaking, those are links which if clicked on, will transfer the user/reader to another page/area on the website displaying other/further content.
  • Whilst it is Vodafone's prerogative to tailor edit their advertising, it is also reasonable to cite comparative information ("double your data") demonstrating Vodafone's selective and unnecessary elaboration of an option adding 45 words when said option already had an embedded html link, linking it to full information regarding said option with one mouse click.
  • It is perfectly reasonable to cite and provide comparative information ("double your data") when the stated contentious statement itself had no embedded html link directly linking it to any information to clarify it - and still doesn't to this day - An applicable question is WHY?
  • Given Vodafone's denial "phone features" is advertised as free, it is perfectly reasonable to cite and provide comparative information ("double your data") demonstrating Vodafone's contrasting refusal to add one single clarifying word such as "optional" for phone features.


In complaint submitted, the use of the statement "<< Contentious Statement <<" is indicative that every endeavour was made to ensure that the focus of the complaint was clearly identified, i.e. charging extra cost for phone features by Vodafone, when advertised as free.

Clearly, intent of citing "double your data" as supporting comparative evidence was misread and misconstrued by Complaints Board, effectively shifting focus of complaint by inappropriately determining "double your data" unambiguous and inoffensive when not deemed so in the complaint, thus diminishing from complaint, while dismissing main focus of complaint "phone features" with inapplicable generalisations and assumptions, proof is given below.

How is it possible that the Complaints Board could get it so wrong?

Regarding primary issue and focus of complaint "phone features":

It was the Chairman's view that
Remark 1
"most people would realise that phone extras such as voicemail attracted an additional cost"

With respect to Remark 1:
In the reality of our free market, nothing is for free. Everything is paid for as part of package and marketing plan. Whether a product, service, or component is advertised as free or not, is none other than a ploy and play on words designed to lure potential customers (as part of marketing plan). Which explains existence of ASA, to curb unscrupulous predatory operators.

In today's changing world, thanks to technology and its effect on our free market coupled with streamlining of product pricing and marketing concepts (the four "P's"), one may not make assumptions based on how products or services were priced or packaged 10 to 20 years ago.

Who would have thought that "unlimited national calls" or "unlimited international calls to one country" would come as bonus for free? Following is no surprise!

Orcon offer 5Gb broadband and a landline for $70 together with a choice of one from four options, including "unlimited national calls" - Please see "bestdealever" promo ending 30/4/11.

Who would have thought "phone features" like voicemail, would come for free? No surprise!

Xnet have for years offered, as stated in their webpage "for free", a myriad of 15 "home phone features", all for free. The entire lot if so desired, at no extra cost! - Please view at "http://www.xnet.co.nz/vfx/features.shtml".

Clearly and in the absence of supporting figures, Chairman's view is invalid!
It was also the Chairman's view that
Remark 2
"unlikely that the majority of customers would assume that a service like voicemail would be included in any plan at no fee"

With respect to Remark 2:
That ASA rulings are predicated by the existence of a majority of customers and their
assumptions is remarkable. Be that as it may, the following is presented as mitigating factors with reference to the said "assumed" "majority".

Due to proliferation of mobile phone plans in last 20 years, there is a generation that has opted out of having "home phone lines" and those are unaware of "home phone features" costs (if any) until they seek it, if they ever do.

On yearly basis there is a percentage of population, specifically, those leaving parent homes to set up their own home. Those have no idea of what costs are and wouldn't have a clue about "phone features" costs (if any) because until then (if ever), they never had to pay for it. They weren't born with that knowledge nor was/is it taught at schools as a topic.

There is significant number of transients in NZ. Those are international students who come to NZ to study for a minimum of one year at a time. Not to mention standard educational schools and universities, this is evidenced by the existence of numerous other schools in the business of and dedicated to catering for such student courses and needs. Similarly, such students would not have prior knowledge of local costs for "home phone features" (if any) until arrival.

Last but not least, there are in excess of 24,000 new migrants entering this country every year. Those would not have a clue about local costs of "home phone features" (if any).

All above categories of population added together are indicative of a majority of customers who are incapable of making assumption that voicemail is provided for a fee (or not). If that is not a majority, then it most certainly is a substantial figure, one which may not be dismissed!

Where does ASA derive "majority" figures from, what are such figures?

How is it possible for ASA to assert that voicemail and other phone features are available but only for a fee - When they have been and still are available for free?

Again - Chairman's view is invalid!

Notwithstanding above mentioned proof of existence of free phone features, the assertion that it is unlikely a majority of customers would assume Voicemail would be included at no fee, is questionable and untenable.

It is furthermore baffling to learn that the ASA has seemingly little regard for and is prepared to permit Vodafone's unethical, unfair machinations deceiving NZ consumers.

Has the complaints board not asked itself WHY Vodafone does not link "contentious statement" in advertisement (a simple 2cent procedure), to full detailed information about "phone features" as it does for "double your data". Has it not asked itself (or Vodafone), WHY does Vodafone choose to bury said information in advertisement making it hard to get to? Why doesn't Vodafone fix it, resist and refuse to fix it? - Is this not deliberate ploy luring people in with a lie?

Why was ASA created if not for and in the interests of the general public and the principles of fairness, as opposed to corporate entities and their interests!

If as reported by the Complaints Board, I was annoyed with Vodafone's behaviour. Is it not perfectly reasonable that I would also be annoyed with ASA's views which support Vodafone's outright lie permitting Vodafone to, by design, continue deceiving the public, luring potential customers in with a false promise, a lie, then reneging on offer seeking additional extra charge!

That instead of specifically declaring its view regarding the validity of said contentious advertisement statement in its ruling, the complaints board resorts to obfuscation with generalisations based on assumptions is disappointing if not beyond belief!

In the absence of specific statistical figures and given the complaint's supporting evidence provided, the Complaint Board Chairman's ruling based on invalidated generalised views and assumptions is without foundation. It is therefore requested that ruling be reconsidered.


The Chairperson of the Advertising Standards Complaints Appeal Board ruled on 3 May 2011 that the Appeal be accepted to be placed before the Advertising Standards Complaints Board.

Part of the Ruling said:

Turning to the Complainant's application for appeal, the Chairperson noted that the Complainant provided detailed reasons outlining the mis-interpretation by the Chairman of the advertisement in light of their original complaint. The Chairperson noted that the Complainant had raised specific issues around the Chairman's interpretation of the placement and meaning of the comma in the sentence "Free local calls, White pages(R) directory listing and access to all your favourite phone features like voicemail." The Chairperson stated that where a comma is used, as in the case of the claim, it is the same as using the word "and", and the claim should be read in that light. Accordingly, the Chairperson said that this issue could be considered by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board (ASCB).

The Chairperson also considered that the issue with regard to data increase in the advertisement should be considered by the ASCB given the apparent absolute nature of the claim. The Chairperson was of the view that the evidence had been misinterpreted by the Chairman and that the matter should be placed before the ASCB for their consideration. Accordingly, the Chairperson ruled that the application for appeal should be accepted.

The Advertiser responded to the Appeal Application:

  1. Thank you for the letter dated 16 May 2011, seeking Vodafone's response to A. Groves appeal.

  1. As you are aware, the Chairman initially determined that there was no apparent breach of the Code without submission from Vodafone. The resulting appeal to this decision was successful. Vodafone now wish to respond to the complaint.

  1. This complaint relates to information set out on the Vodafone Website (http://www.vodafone.co.nz) for the Vodafone Easy Pack, a combined Broadband and home phone pack. This Website Advertisement was generated by Vodafone and we confirm that no advertising agency was employed in creating and/ or placing this advertisement on our website.

  1. We understand that Vodafone are being asked to respond to the concerns regarding the addition of extra charges in relation to:

a. the inclusion of Voicemail

b. ability to "double your data

  1. The complainant considers the advertisements to be misleading due to a failure to properly set out the additional costs which will be incurred to use these features.

  1. Both of these concerns relate to the same page on the Vodafone Website relating to the Vodafone Easy Pack. This page notes the following:

$80.00 ? 5GB of broadband 5GB

per month ? Home phone & calling
? FREE wireless modem and connection offer available Sign Up

Get started on broadband with a 5GB plan which combines your broadband plan and Vodafone home phone line with local calling.

(https://www.vodafone.co.nz/home-phone-and-broadband/bundles/easy-pack.isp)

Inclusion of Voicemail

  1. A customer who signs up to a Vodafone Easy Pack has the option of adding additional services, including voicemail.

  1. The complainant has some concern about the additional charge that will be incurred with the Vodafone Easy Pack if a customer wished to have voicemail included on the account, and says that this is not sufficiently disclosed on the website.

  1. As noted above, the Easy Pack includes the Vodafone home phone and calling. The Vodafone home phone and calling package is detailed on our website. This page clearly notes that any extra services, including voicemail to be available for an additional charge (see https://www.vodafone.co.nz/home-phone-and-broadband/home -phone/). Services such as voicemail commonly attract an additional charge including when this is provided by other operators (for example see http://www.telecom.co.nz/callminder)

  1. A. Groves points to Vodafone's website which notes

Free local calls, White pages(R) directory listing and access to your favourite phone features like voicemail.

  1. Vodafone's intention is to make it clear that these are functions that can be added to the package, rather than a list of what is included in the pack. We accept that without a link to this information, there is a chance that some consumers could be mislead into thinking that this is included

  1. Vodafone wish to ensure that the information it provides to its customers and consumers is clear and accurate and does not cause any confusion. While we believe that most consumers will not be mislead, we have amended our website to make it clear that these are additional services which attract a charge. While this part of the webpage provides links to the home phone and calling page, but we have now also provided a link to the home phone and calling page from this specific statement.

  1. The amended page can be found at http://www.vodafone.co.nz/home-phone-and-broadband/bundles/easy-pack.jsp. The statement Free local calls, White pages(R) directory listing and access to your favourite phone features like voicemail. has had added to it the following phrase (Please note that phone features such as voicemail have a small additional charge). A copy of the relevant page is attached to this letter for your ease of reference.

  1. We hope this amendment to our website is sufficient to satisfy both the complainant and the Chairman.



Double Your Data

  1. Vodafone believe that the website is clear around the offer to "double your data".


16. On the Vodafone website, the Easy Pack is described as follows:

? 5GB of broadband

? Home phone & calling

? FREE wireless modem and connection offer available

  1. The page is clear that the $80 Easy Pack comes with a data allowance of 5GB.

  1. Vodafone appreciate that its customers may wish, from time to time, to increase the data they use in any particular month without changing the plan that they are on. For this reason, the "double your data" function was created.


19. The website states:

Get more broadband data by upgrading with Double your Data

If you find 5GB isn't enough, you can double your data to 10GB for an additional $10.20 if you just need a bit more as a one-off, or you can change to a bigger pack at anytime during the month.

  1. Vodafone believe that the reference to 'upgrading', and a clear reference to the cost of including an additional feature show consumers that this is an additional charge to receive an additional benefit, rather than an included benefit.

  1. In addition the words "double your data to 10GB" contain an embedded link which directs the reader to a further page which states


I've used all my Fixed Broadband data - what should I do?

If you have used up the monthly allowance on your fixed Broadband plan you have the option to slow down to 64kbps for the rest of the month or buy extra data.

To add a data block to your plan, sign into My account, select the block you want, and choose whether you want it as an ongoing extra or just as a once off.

? Double your data on the Basic pack (get another 2GB) - $5.10 per block (inc GST)

? Double your data on the Easy pack (get another 5GB) - $10.20 per block (inc

GST)

? Double your data on the Ideal pack and Ideal Naked (get another 10GB) - $20.40

per block (inc GST)

? Double your data on the Ultimate pack and Ultimate Naked (get another 30GB) -

$30.60 per block (inc GST)

  1. Vodafone believe that this is all clearly set out on the website, and no consumers would be mislead into believing that this is available without an additional charge.




Chairman's Ruling

The Chairman accepted the explanation from the Advertiser that the changes had been made to their website so that no confusion would be caused in the future. Noting this self-regulatory action, the Chairman said that it would serve no further purpose to place the complaint before the Complaints Board. The Chairman ruled that the matter was settled.


Chairman's Ruling: appeal application Settled