Major fibre ISP nailed for allegedly misleading customers with R1,000 credit deal

The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has ruled that RSAWeb misled customers with an advert claiming they would get a R1,000 credit on their account when they switch from any Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Complainant Aubrey Larkins opted to switch from his previous ISP, Rain, to RSAWeb but was told he didn’t qualify for the R1,000 credit after his service was activated.

RSAWeb told Larkins that the promotion was only available to customers moving from a fibre ISP to RSAWeb.

The complainant submitted that this contradicted RSAWeb’s online marketing campaign, which specified “any ISP” and didn’t specify any terms and conditions.

The brief social media advertisement is quoted below:

Switch from any ISP to RSAWEB and get up to R1,000 credit on your account. Get Fibre Internet today! Switch now.

RSAWeb, which isn’t a member of the ARB and thus isn’t forced to abide by its jurisdiction, didn’t respond to the regulator’s requests for comment.

“The directorate therefore has no alternative but to rule on the matter based on the information provided by the complainant,” the ARB wrote in its ruling.

The advertising regulator weighed the complaint in terms of Clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code of Advertising Practice (the Code), which states:

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 agreed that the advertisement doesn’t refer to any specific limitations to the offer and clearly states, “Switch from any ISP”.

The regulator said the link provided in the advertisement redirects customers to an RSAWeb fibre deals page.

“The Directorate notes that the advertised offer does not appear on the fibre deals page, or in fact, as far as the directorate can determine, anywhere on the website,” it added.

“No reference is made on the advertisement to fibre services or that the promotion applies only when customers switch their fibre services from their current ISP to the advertiser’s fibre services.”

The ARB also noted that RSAWeb’s services aren’t limited to just fibre; it also offers fixed-LTE, mobile broadband, and a range of business solutions.

“The directorate specifically mentions this to illustrate that the advertiser does not only offer fibre services to customers. Accordingly, it cannot be assumed that when the advertiser refers to switching ‘services’, that this refers to fibre services,” it said.

Based on the information provided by the complainant, the ARB found the advertisement to be misleading and in contravention of Clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code.

It has warned its members not to accept advertising that states, “switch from any ISP to RSAWeb and get R1,000 credit” from the ISP without further clarity.

Wendy-Anne Bailey, business unit head for consumer and SME at RSAWeb told MyBroadband that it takes the ARB’s feedback seriously and wishes to address the concerns raised by the complainant.

“RSAWeb recognises that there may have been a misunderstanding, and we are committed to resolving this issue amicably,” it said.

“Despite the customer not technically meeting the campaign’s criteria, RSAWEB has offered to provide the customer with the R1,000 credit as a gesture of goodwill and to ensure customer satisfaction. We have notified the customer of our intention to provide the credit.”

The ISP added that it has paused the campaign to make the required amendments to make the deal’s terms and conditions clear.

“We believe in full transparency, and we are also reviewing our T&Cs pages to ensure that all terms and conditions are readily accessible and clear for our valued customers and future customers,” said RSAWeb.

Now read: Competition Commission approves Webafrica buying Mweb — with conditions

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Major fibre ISP nailed for allegedly misleading customers with R1,000 credit deal