Rain nailed for misleading customers with R1 unlimited 5G ad

The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has ruled against Rain for misleading customers with an advertisement claiming they can “join now for just 1 Rand”.

A complaint regarding the ad was brought before the regulator by Trevor Hill, who said it leads customers to believe they would get unlimited 5G home Wi-Fi and free monthly calls and data for two phones for R1.

“Join now for just 1 Rand. Unlimited 5G home wifi + FREE monthly calls and data for 2 phones,” the ad read.

“Offer available until 31 July 2023. T’s & C’s apply.”

However, clicking on the ad takes customers to Rain’s website, where the deal is R559, and a joining fee of R1 applies.

“The Complainant stated that the actual price of the product is not being advertised, only the joining fee of R1, and this misleads the consumer to believe the product is priced at R1,” the ARB said in its ruling.

Hill added that the ad should at least include a statement saying the joining fee is R1 and the 5G Wi-Fi can be purchased from R559.

Given the opportunity to respond to the complaint, Rain noted that it isn’t an ARB member, meaning any decision by the regulator doesn’t bind it.

Rain said the promotional period for the 5G home Wi-Fi deal had already expired and highlighted the deal’s terms and conditions, which included a point saying:

“If a participant buys a Rain One product through the promotion, he/she will pay a joining fee of R1. After he/she has joined, the participant will be charged a monthly subscription fee.”

It argued that the ad makes it clear that the offer relates to Rain One, applies only to the joining fee, and is subject to terms and conditions.

Rain added that, as the complainant had mentioned, clicking the ad takes a customer to the Rain One page, where they can see that the joining fee is R1 and that the product carries a month-to-month subscription fee of R559.

The usual joining fee applies as an upfront, pro-rated amount for the first month, depending on when the customer joins Rain One.

The ARB weighed the complaint and Rain’s response in terms of Clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code of Advertising Practice, which sets out the following:

“Advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presentation which, directly or by implication, omission, ambiguity, inaccuracy, exaggerated claim or otherwise, is likely to mislead the consumer.”

It ruled that the wording used is misleading despite the usual inclusion of “T’s and C’s apply” in the advertisement.

“It creates the impression that for R1 only they will get some sort of meaningful access to the product,” the ARB said.

“If customers are not familiar with the way in which the Rain One product works, then it is not obvious from the advertisement that the 5G home Wi-Fi and free sim cards are separate products that are subjected to separate subscription fees.”

Regarding sanctioning, the regulator instructed its members not to accept any advertising from Rain stating “Join now for just R1” without further clarity.

Rain told MyBroadband that, while it isn’t an ARB member, it is aware of the ruling and has made changes to the advertisement and its website.

The full ARB ruling is embedded below.

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Rain nailed for misleading customers with R1 unlimited 5G ad