Certain claims made by Consumer Cellular should be modified or discontinued, according to the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the BBB National Programs. The organization found that other claims made by the provider were supported.
The challenges were brought by T-Mobile. The claims made involved two television commercials, as well as video, radio, billboard and print ads.
Half the cost: A claim that Consumer Cellular’s plans are half the cost of competing major carriers’ plans was supported. It was based on a comparison of Consumer Cellular’s most popular 5GB plan and the cost of the major carrier’s lowest price plans.
The advertising watchdog noted, however, that the more expensive Consumer Cellular plans were not half the cost of the least expensive plans offered by other major carriers. NAD recommended that Consumer Cellular disclose the basis of the comparison and any other material differences between the plans – including whether or not the other plan offers unlimited data – in order to prevent an overstatement.
NAD also recommended that Consumer Cellular modify claims to clearly and conspicuously show which plans are the basis of the comparison and the difference in data allotment between the compared plans. The service provider also should make sure that the 5GB plan that is the basis for comparison is as available as other plans that are offered by Consumer Cellular.
Annual Savings: NAD found that the claim that $250 can be saved a year on text and data is not supported and should be discontinued.
Prices: NAD recommended that Consumer Cellular modify or discontinue the claim that “while prices rise, ours are dropping.” It should be limited to cases in which prices actually decrease, not those in which people pay the same price for increased data rates.
Unlimited Data: Consumer Cellular promotes one of its wireless services as having unlimited data. However, when use reaches 50GB of data usage in a month, speeds are throttled. NAD recommends that the service provider “clearly and conspicuously disclose that access to high-speed data will be reduced” for the remainder of their billing cycle once the limit is hit.
Coverage Claim: Consumer Cellular’s “Comparison” commercial was challenged. NAD found that the context of the claim that “they’re the same” did not imply that the company was referring to competitors’ services but to its coverage map. It recommended no action on this ad.
Best Price/Best Quality: Finally, NAD said that it had been informed by Consumer Cellular yhat the service provider was discontinuing “the best price with the best quality” claim. NAD therefore did not review the claim on the merits.
BBB’s NAD is weighing in pretty regularly on telecom advertising. Most recently, it recommended that Comcast drop and modify some claims it made about T-Mobile’s fixed wireless offering known as T-Mobile Home Internet.