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ASCI calls out Airtel, Flipkart, Foodpanda, Zoomcar & others for false advertising

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The Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) has upheld complaints (report) against 54 out of 84 advertisements brought to it in September. These adverts belonged to various categories: 13 in personal and healthcare, 7 in education, 7 in telecom and broadband, 6 in ecommerce and 15 from other categories.

6 out of the 7 complaints in telecom and broadband were against the Bharti Airtel and Bharti Softbank group:

Airtel’s claim in the ad “We at Airtel are giving away exciting surprises to all our broadband users”, was misleading because it did not add a disclaimer for the qualifying conditions under which users could claim them.

Airtel 4G’s claim in the offer of, “Get the same data benefits as your 3G pack and enjoy superfast 4G speeds at no extra cost”, “FREE 4G UPGRADE”, was misleading because it did not specify a disclaimer with the benefits of the retail plans, which were not applicable for corporate plan users.

– Airtel 4G- My Plan Infinity ad claimed “Unlimited Calls, Unlimited Movies, Unlimited Music and Loads of data”, which was false and misleading, while the disclaimer was not clearly visible.

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For the same plan, the website mentioned multiple terms and conditions where the calls were capped at 5,000 minutes per month and were hence not “unlimited”. The claim “Unlimited Calling, only with Airtel 4G” was found false and misleading.

Airtel said that its 4G ad super was 12 pixel, which is ASCI’s minimum size limit. ASCI said that the disclaimer in the ad was not clearly legible.

Bharti Softbank’s Hike Messenger ad’s claim of “Five times faster” and “10 new features” were not substantiated.

Atria Convergence Technologies (Act Fibernet), in an ad claimed “Unlimited 5 Mbps and 20 Mbps starting at Rs 650”, was not substantiated and was found misleading because of ambiguity and the fact that Rs 650 plan was only for internet speeds of 5 Mbps.

Ecommerce:

– On the website, Flipkart claimed that Tek-Tron Velroc Safety Outdoor Shoes were for Rs 599, when the actual printed MRP on the shoes was Rs 499 and offered further discount. This was amount to distortion of facts and misleading consumers about actual offered discount. (There was a similar complaint in June.)

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– Flipkart’s mailer states that “Research shows that beautiful women are more successful in their lives”, was not substantiated and also not taken to kindly by the social media.

Foodpanda’s parent Pisces eServices’ ad claimed “Flat 50% off on every meal” which was misleading since it was valid only under certain conditions.

CouponsCenter’s ‘Makemytrip trippy Tuesdays Offer’ ad claimed “Flat Rs.1200 off on Domestic Flights” which was not substantiated.

Com’s ‘terradynecorp.com – promotional offer’ web ad offered two year registration, but omitted a Rs 40 additional charge, which was found misleading and hence upheld.

Media and entertainment:

Bennett Coleman & Co’s Alive App ad claim of  “Download Alive app and get a free recharge Rs. 50 Recharge from Paytm” was false and misleading.

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HT Media’s Shine.com ad stated “Shine.com has max more traffic than Monsterindia.com. That means a better candidate database”, was found misleading by implication and omission. The image of a monster mascot shown over the headline of “Say Bye to the monster of limited database” was seen as unfairly denigrating the competitor’s site.

Odisha TV’s Tarang ad claimed “Yours No-1 choice” and did not provide a disclaimer of the source and date of research of the claim. It also claimed “Tarang moves ahead of all programmes that are getting telecast in any TV channel in Orissa”, which was unsubstantiated with comparative data of other competitors in the same category, and was misleading since it was only comparing itself with Sarthak.

Sarthak TV’s ad claims of “Digahara (directionless), Bhramatmaka (misleading), Hasyaspada (Funny)”, were not substantiated, and was considered derogatory to competitor channel.

Sandesh News’ ad claim of “Sandesh News is No.1 Gujarati news channel”, was not substantiated and the source and date of research not mentioned.

Bloomberg TV India’s ad claimed, “The market opens with Bloomberg TV India. The No 1 market opening show 9 am – Street Smart Dealing Room. Factual. First. Fastest. Final. Future”, “When it comes to business and markets programming, Bloomberg TV India is the channel of choice”, “The most preferred destination for business and markets content. No. 1. Bloomberg TV India leads with 43% market share in the English Business News genre”. For all 3 ads, the period of comparison was not adequate (over at least 4 consecutive weeks), and misleading. The “First. Fastest” claim also did not provide evidence to substantiate.

Others:

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Automotive Exchange (CarWale)’s ad with the blood transfusion scene wherein a doctor suggested using incompatible blood type “Blood mein itna unees bees chalta hai”, (It’s fine to use similarly labelled blood in transfusion) showed a ‘dangerous practice without justifiable reason’.

– Self drive company Zoom Car’s ad stated, “dahej mein layi hogi”, and “what luck” encouraged dowry and violated The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. Seriously, Zoomcar, we live in 2015.

Image Credit: Alan Cleaver

Written By

I'm a MediaNama alumna from 2015-16 (remember TinyOwl?) now back to cover e-services like food and grocery delivery, app based transport and policies, platforms and media in India.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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