Orange has been rapped on the knuckles yet again by the Advertising Standards Authority over its use of the word "unlimited".
In an adjudication published on Wednesday, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that Orange had been wrong to publish a magazine advertisement for its home broadband service in which it offered "unlimited UK and international calls to 100 countries and unlimited downloads" without any reference to the provider's fair-use policies. In the case of calls, "unlimited" in fact meant up to 1,000 minutes per month, and downloads were limited to 40GB per month.
"We noted Orange's assertion that the omission of a reference to the fair-usage policy had been the result of an error and that their normal practice was to include a reference in the small print," the ASA's adjudication read. "However, we also noted Orange had omitted to include that reference on at least two other occasions and, on both those occasions, they had also claimed the omission was due to an error. We had received assurances from Orange on those occasions that they would ensure they included a reference to their fair-usage policy in their ads. We were concerned that Orange had failed to adhere to their assurances."
The ASA's response in this new case was to again tell Orange to "ensure that they included a reference to their fair-usage policy when using an unlimited claim in future [and advise them] to seek guidance from the CAP [Committee of Advertising Practice] Copy Advice team for their future ads". Asked why the ASA had not responded to Orange's third transgression of the same rule with something stronger, a spokesperson told ZDNet.co.uk that "it is not a set amount of strikes and you're out".
"What we have done is not just to say 'Don't do it again' — we said that we have had assurances on this issue on two occasions previously and yet it has happened again, which is just not acceptable," the ASA's spokesperson continued. "By saying that, it is, firstly, a warning to Orange that we are monitoring this and, secondly, the public are now aware that this is an ongoing issue. If needs be, we can take further action, but hopefully we won't have to go down the line of sanctions."
Those potential sanctions, if Orange continues to flout the rules, include forcing the operator to run its advertisements by the CAP Copy Advice team (as opposed to suggesting they do so, as in the current adjudication), asking the media to withhold advertising space from Orange, and, ultimately, taking Orange to the Office of Fair Trading.
Orange said on Wednesday that they would soon be issuing a statement on the ASA's adjudication, which was prompted by a complaint from T-Mobile. Orange has also come under fire recently over calling a 30MB per month mobile-data tariff "flat rate".