The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) has ruled on a complaint regarding Webafrica’s “free fibre-ready router” online marketing material.
A complaint filed against Webafrica’s advertising for its fibre offering stated that the “free fibre-ready router” claims were misleading.
Webafrica’s website states that fibre subscribers will receive a free fibre router worth R1,000 when they sign up for a fibre service.
However, the advertising material does not immediately clarify that customers must return the router if they cancel their fibre package, or otherwise pay for the router upon cancellation.
After the ASA complainant took a fibre package and received his “free router”, he told Webafrica that he had given his router to a friend – to which it responded with the following message:
Apologies for hearing that, the TP-Link router that we provide our clients does not become yours in the end.
It will always be a product of Webafrica, so if anything and you want to maybe ever cancel one day, we will need the router returned to us or you will be charged a router claw back fee of R999.00.
The complainant argued that this was not mentioned to him at any point during his acquisition of a fibre service through Webafrica.
It was found that the router terms are mentioned in the fine print of the deal, but the complainant said it should be clearly conveyed to the average customer.
Webafrica responded to the ASA complaint by submitting material from its website where it states that it retains the right to charge for the router or have it returned.
It said this information is made available through its FAQ and Legal webpages, in addition to the monthly invoices sent to the complainant.
Misleading by omission
After reviewing the complaint, the ASA found that the claims “Free Fibre-Ready Router”, “You’ll get a FREE Fibre-ready router”, and “Free Router worth R1,000” were misleading by omission.
It said the claims were unqualified and that Webafrica’s wording on its website is intentionally misleading, as it uses ambiguous wording such as “free-to-use” in its Legal and FAQ sections.
The ASA found that the information regarding the free-to-use terms of the router were placed far below the “free router” claims, and do not prevent the customer from being misled.
The complaint was upheld and the ASA instructed Webafrica to withdraw the current advertising from its website.