Don’t tell me my ADSL upgrade is free and then charge me

MWEB may not tell customers they will receive a “free” uncapped ADSL speed upgrade, when they will be charged more on their monthly bill to take full advantage of it, according to the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa.

A Mr Spies and a Mr Schay complained that MWEB sent the following “misleading” email advertisements regarding uncapped ADSL to customers:

At MWEB we know faster is better when it comes to your Internet connection, so we’re upgrading your Uncapped ADSL product. The best part? It’s FREE and will automatically be applied to your ADSL product, which means an even better Internet experience.

From 1 November 16, MWEB will be increasing your product from 2Mbps Uncapped ADSL Data to 4Mbps Uncapped ADSL Data for FREE!

The first complainant stated that the “free” upgrade was misleading to the “average non-technical user”, and that he would have to pay R80 more per month to upgrade his line speed.

The second complainant said when he contacted MWEB to upgrade his line speed, he was informed that this would incur an additional monthly cost.

MWEB responds

MWEB said it offered ADSL data-only products and ADSL data products with ADSL line rental.

Customers therefore paid MWEB for the uncapped data and the ADSL line – with the advertisements informing them it had “upgraded the data portion of their packages from 2Mbps uncapped data to 4Mbps uncapped data at no additional cost”.

“The respondent believed that it was clear the data was upgraded, not the line speed,” said the ASA. This is because there is a price difference between the 2Mbps and 4Mbps uncapped data packages.

MWEB added that even if a customer did not upgrade their line speed, they could still benefit from the 4Mbps data package as it had a higher fair usage threshold than the 2Mbps product.

The ISP said it is “regretful that its communication may not have been clear enough”.

ASA ruling

“The respondent undertook to never use this email communication in its current form again… and it will endeavour to be clearer in its communications to its customers,” said the ASA.

The ASA accepted this undertaking from MWEB as it addressed the original complaints.

Now read: ADSL under R1 per GB – cheapest capped bundles in South Africa

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Don’t tell me my ADSL upgrade is free and then charge me