Advertising watchdogs are taking action to stem the tide of
complaints about misleading advertising they now receive as a result of
the massive expansion of Britain’s telecoms industry since it was
With more than 150 companies now offering telecoms services in the UK,
the Advertising Standards Authority and the rule-making Committee of
Advertising Practice are setting down new guidelines to halt the stream
of complaints by companies against their rivals’ comparative
The ASA says that, because no two companies have similar pricing
structures, comparative advertising in the sector has become a
’minefield for advertisers while making it at best confusing and at
worst misleading for consumers’.
The new guidelines aim to ensure all comparisons made by companies are
fair and clear and that they compare their services only with the most
similar ones offered by their competitors.
In order to conform with the guidelines, advertisers must assume that
different consumers with different call patterns will behave rationally
in choosing the best-value mobile phone service available, even if this
is not borne out by the evidence.
At the same time, all prices quoted must include the amount of VAT
payable unless the advertising is being addressed exclusively to