The advertisement stated: 'Freetalk is the UK's cheapest home phone calls package: saves £100 vs BT. Freetalk gives you unlimited local and national calls. Freetalk gives you cheap international call rates. Freetalk is easy to use, all you need is a broadband connection.'
After making these claims the ad featured a table comparing the monthly and 'first year' costs of Freetalk One year, Freetalk Monthly, BT Together Option 3, Telewest and Tesco Home Phone.
BT objected that the comparison table with BT Together Option 3 was misleading, because it also offers a VoIP service with BT Broadband Talk, which BT believes is more comparable.
The ASA rejected claims from The Link and Freetalk that they believed the ad "would not materially mislead".
"We noted that BT Broadband Talk offered consumers a VoIP service and considered that, in the context of an ad for a service that offered internet calls only, the BT Broadband Talk package was more comparable than the BT Together Option 3 package," the ASA stated.
"We concluded that, because The Link and Freetalk Communication were offering a new type of product, and that product met the same needs as BT Together Option 3, it was acceptable in this case to compare those packages.
"But, in the absence of a clear and prominent statement that BT offered a more comparable internet phone service, we considered that recipients could wrongly infer that BT Together Option 3 was the BT package most comparable to Freetalk."
The watchdog added that The Link and Freetalk Communication did not plan to use the email again and told them to ensure that future similar comparisons included a qualifying statement about the most comparable phone service near to the savings claim or comparison table and in similar sized text.
The ad was ruled to have breached CAP Code clauses 7.1 (Truthfulness), 18.1 and 18.3 (Comparisons with identified competitors and/or their products).
It was also investigated under CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 18.2 (Comparisons) but was not found in breach.
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