The National Advertising Division (NAD) previously recommended that T-Mobile discontinue using “pay off your phone,” “pay off every last cent,” and “cover every penny” in connection with the advertiser’s “Ditch and Switch” campaign, which encouraged consumers to “ditch” their old mobile phone carriers and avoid financial liability if they sign up with T-Mobile. NAD found that consumers could reasonably interpret these claims to mean that they would not have to pay out-of-pocket for any amounts owed to their previous carriers and would receive a cash reimbursement to cover the full amount owed for their phone. However, because the Ditch and Switch plan is designed to cover a portion, but not all, of the of amounts consumers would owe to their current carrier, NAD concluded that the claims were literally false. The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) disagreed that the Pay Off Claims were literally false and instead found that these claims are not inherently misleading if appropriate, explanatory language about reimbursements for the value of the phone is included, clearly and conspicuously in the body of the advertisement near the Pay Off Claims.
NAD had also recommended that T-Mobile discontinue advertising that it will pay off consumers’ phones “up to $650,” since there was no limit to the amount that the advertiser would actually reimburse. NARB agreed with NAD that the “up to” claim was misleading and recommended modifying the claim to accurately and truthfully reflect the advertiser’s program. The NARB found T-Mobile’s argument that the risk of potential harm is small, since consumers would arguably receive more than what was advertised to be unpersuasive.
TIP: Advertisers should ensure that consumer offers are accurately communicated and clearly explained to consumers.