Carphone Warehouse 'cleared' over free broadband claim

The company's chief executive has claimed the Advertising Standards Authority will clear his firm over complaints that its 'free' broadband offer is misleading, subject to making some small changes

Carphone Warehouse will be cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over its promotion of "free" broadband, the company's chief executive claimed on his blog on Thursday.

According to Charles Dunstone's blog, Carphone Warehouse is "delighted and relieved to be able to report that common sense has prevailed and we will still be able to advertise the service as free".

Dunstone added that the company will be making "some small changes" to the offers terms and conditions as a concession, although a spokesperson for Carphone Warehouse told ZDNet UK on Friday that it was impossible to be more specific until the ASA publishes its findings early next week.

An ASA spokesman declined to comment on Dunstone's claims.

The complaint was taken to the ASA by dozens of individuals, as well as rivals including BT and Tiscali. They claimed that using the description "Free Broadband" was misleading as customers have to use and pay for a Talk Talk phone line and voice package, but Dunstone's blog entry suggests Carphone Warehouse was successful in arguing that "to call something free it must be associated with a product or service that was available prior to its launch".

Dunstone also revealed that next week Carphone Warehouse will start offering Free Broadband to users of its more basic phone package, which excludes free international calls and is a pound cheaper than the £9.99 per month voice package previously required to qualify for free broadband. There is also an £11 per month line-rental charge.