The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) has ruled that MWEB’s 200Mbps fibre advertising is misleading and ordered the ISP to withdraw it with immediate effect.
MWEB’s “200GB Data + 200Mbps” advertisement promised users a free router, free installation, and free connection.
However, a complainant pointed out that the free router is only capable of providing a speed of up to 100Mbps.
“Customers who want to subscribe to the advertised 200Mbps fibre package have to purchase an additional router capable to deliver 200Mbps speed, which is sold at R1,500,” he said.
MWEB denied the complainant’s allegations, arguing that it is stated the “free router only support speeds up to 100Mbps on LAN and up 40Mbps over Wi-Fi”.
It added that the router is free, and that consumers may decide to take up the offer or choose to purchase another router.
MWEB also undertook to amend the advertisement by inserting an asterisk to the claim “Free Router” on the offer of the 200Mbps fibre products to alert consumers of the router’s capabilities.
The ASA said a reasonable consumer would expect a free router that is relevant to the offer they have just read, however.
“Instead, they get a free router that cannot support the 200Mbps offer. It is unclear how this would be of any use to them,” said the ASA.
“While it is true that the router is free, it is not, as the advertisement implies, the router that the purchaser of this particular deal will need.”
The ASA agreed with the complainant that the advertising creates an expectation that one would receive a free router that is compatible with the advertised 200Mbps fibre product.
“It is misleading to offer consumers a router that is irrelevant and incompatible with the product that they want.”
It therefore found that MWEB’s “Free Router” claim is misleading and ordered the company to withdraw it with immediate effect.