The broadband and mobile provider Utility Warehouse found itself in hot water this month over its claims to offer the best value mobile service in the UK.
According to the Advertising Standards Agency, a complaint was made about a statement spotted on the company’s website back in January 2018. Apparently, the page featured information about Utility Warehouse, along with details about the tariffs and handsets on offer. However, it was the claim at the top of the page that had generated the complaint – that the company offered ‘The UK’s best value mobile.’
According to the complainant, this statement was false, as other mobile companies could be seen to be offering cheaper deals. So were Utility Warehouse intentionally misleading customers with their bold claim?
In response, the company stated that the value offered by their mobile packages was about more than just the base costs of data, minutes and texts. Instead, they pointed to their value added benefits in order to substantiate their claim.
These benefits, Utility Warehouse say, add up to make their mobile packages the best value in the UK. To support this, they pointed to their lack of in-contract price rises, lower out of bundle charges and provision of 4G at no extra cost. Furthermore, they stated that the claim was made in the context of their value added benefits, and that they never intended to imply that their tariffs offered the cheapest deals.
However, the ASA disagreed. After an investigation, they concluded that customers might reasonably assume that the ‘UK’s best value mobile’ claim related to the cost of data, minutes and texts, and not the additional value of Utility Warehouse’s other features. Furthermore, they found that some of the company’s competitors were offering what appeared to be cheaper deals.
For example, the ASA noted that one of Utility Warehouse’s competitors was offering more data for a similar price, while another competing tariff also featured more data as well as unlimited calls and texts – all for less than the alleged ‘UK’s best value mobile’ provider was charging.
In conclusion, the ASA decided that Utility Warehouse could no longer feature the misleading claim on their website and instructed them to remove it – at least until they are able to support it with more convincing data.