T-Mobile has agreed to comply with recommendations made by The National Advertising Division of BBB National Programs that it discontinue making advertising claims that subscribers to its home Internet service can save “as much as 50% compared the National FCC Broadband Rate Benchmark.”
The press release says that the claims are on screen for only two seconds in the challenged commercial. And, perhaps more significantly, the comparison is misleading.
The comparison is to the National FCC Broadband Rate Benchmark. “NAD found that even if the consumer read the entire claim, one reasonable interpretation of the term ‘benchmark’ is that the benchmark rate is an average rate paid by Americans for home internet service,” according to the press release. “However, the Urban Rate Survey does not represent the actual price that any consumers pay, but rather a benchmark rate set by the FCC to ensure equitable pricing for rural areas.”
The Urban Rate Survey is more appropriately used “for the purposed of informing public policy” and “the benchmark derived from this survey is not a good fit for the challenged savings claim,” the NAD said.
The organization recommended that T-Mobile discontinue several claims:
- “Save Up to 50% vs. National FCC Broadband Rate Benchmark”
- “$105/mo (FCC Urban Broadband Rate Survey Reasonable Comparability Benchmark) vs. $50/mo (T-Mobile 5G Home Internet).”
- “Save Up To 50% with T-Mobile Home Internet. Internet bills have you feeling mistreated? Get happy with T-Mobile Home Internet. Save up to 50% compared to the FCC benchmark.”
- “Save Up To 50% compared to 2021 FCC Urban Rate Survey Reasonable Comparability Benchmark,” and “Save Up To 50% Compared to 2022 FCC Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service Reasonable Comparison Benchmark. $105/mo w/AutoPay (T-Mobile 5G Home Internet).”
- And the implied claims that consumers will save up to 50% if they purchase T-Mobile internet versus the same or a comparable service level of internet from other providers (including Charter).
T-Mobile said that it would comply with the recommendations, though it said that it disagreed with certain NAD findings regarding the benchmark. Its compliance was because the carrier believes in the “self-regulatory process.”
This is not the first time that T-Mobile was at odds with NAD. In November 2020, the organization recommended that T-Mobile modify claims concerning the positive impact on the 5G experience on the “vast number of T-Mobile customers” due to the merger with Sprint.
T-Mobile isn’t the only provider that has run into trouble over advertising claims. In April 2021, Charter was fined $19 million for false advertising during the Windstream bankruptcy reorganization. The penalty was handed down by The U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York.