If you've watched live TV or been to the cinema recently you might have seen the Sky Mobile advert featuring Tom Hardy talking about swapping your phone after 12 months. Not the one with the sugar cubes, the one with Tom Hardy walking along the coast. Well that advert just got banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The ASA has issue because the adverts claims people can swap their phone round free of charge, but that's not true. Sky Mobile's Swap perk lets you change phones every 12 months without any extra charges, but to do that you need to sign up for another 24 month interest free loan with a data plan (better known as a 'phone contract'). It's less of a 'swap', and more of a 'cancelling your existing contract and taking out a brand new one without penalty'.
That effectively extends your commitment to Sky Mobile for an extra year. If you decide you don't want to upgrade once another 12 months have passed then tough. You still need to continue on your current plan, or cancel and face the resulting penalties. That new contract won't necessarily be the same price as the one you're currently on, either.
The ASA says that consumers are unlikely to understand the wording, even though on screen text states that each new phone requires the customer to sign up for a 24 month interest free loan and data plan.
"We acknowledged that on-screen text stated '24 month interest free loan with data plan needed for each new phone' and 'Trade in value of old Sky phone credited to existing loan. Full repayment required.
However, we considered the need to take out a new, 24-month loan and the possibility of a higher monthly charge with an upgraded phone were pieces of information that customers needed to be aware of before enquiring about the offer, thus needed to be stated clearly and prominently in the ad."
Does anyone read the small print in an advert? Maybe, but it is just that: small print. I know I didn't even notice it, and considering people generally don't like adverts they're not going to give them their full undivided attention in most cases.
The advert debuted back in March, though, so what good the ban does at this late stage isn't clear. Sky Mobile does still use its launch advertising quite a lot, though I've only ever seen the one with the sugar cubes. [ASA via The Register]