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ASCI upholds complaint against Reliance Jio, RCom and Bharti Airtel

MUMBAI: The Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) has upheld complaints against Reliance Jio Infocomm, Reliance Communications and Bharti Airtel for false advertisement claims.

There were two complaints filed against Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. The first complaint was against the company’s three months unlimited pack at Rs 309. The complaint suggested that the advertisement’s claim “3 months unlimited at Rs.309”, is misleading by ambiguity and omission of a disclaimer qualifying the offer that it is subject to terms and conditions.

Further for the claim, ”Unlimited” contravened Chapter I.4 of the ASCI Code as well as Clauses 1 and 2 of ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers. (“A disclaimer can expand or clarify a claim, make qualifications, or resolve ambiguities, to explain the claim in further details, but should not contradict the material claim made or contradict the main message conveyed by the advertiser or change the dictionary meaning of the words used in the claim as received or perceived by a consumer” and “Disclaimer such as `T&C apply’ should indicate where this information is available to consumer for further reference.”).

The second complaint against Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd was for the advertisement’s claim, “All unlimited three months at Rs 309”. The complaint made was that the offer is valid for only 84 days which is not completely three months. It was concluded that the advertiser’s explanation in respect to this complaint, that “it was a standard industry practice to consider one month as 28 days to bring about consistency in the billing cycle” was not considered acceptable, given the fact that in common parlance, a month was always understood as a calendar month.

Further, in respect of the claim, “Unlimited maza continue hoyega” that was made in the advertisement ought to have carried a mention that such claim was subject to certain terms and conditions. The advertisement did not have any mention of the speed throttling after 1 GB. In the absence of such mention of terms and conditions, it was opined that the claim was vague and misleading by omission and ambiguity.

The complaint against Reliance Communications Ltd stated that the advertisement’s claims, “unlimited local STD call for 28 days at Rs 199” and “unlimited local STD call for all networks”, were without any substantiation and the claim stating “unlimited” is misleading in view of the capping.

The advertisement by Bharti Airtel Ltd which launched Airtel Rs 29 for 1 month claimed that the pack “Enjoy internet for the full month at just Rs 29”, is misleading by ambiguity and omission as 75 MB being given at that cost may not last for a month.

In May 2017, ASCI upheld complaints against 117 out of 154 advertisements. Out of 117 advertisements, 39 belonged to the Healthcare category, 33 to the Education category followed by eight in the Personal Care category, eight in Telecommunications sector, six in the Food & Beverages category, five in E-commerce category and 18 advertisements from other categories.