MTN starts removing ‘misleading’ 10GB ads

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 24 May 2023

MTN says it has started removing advertisements for its 10GB data special, after the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) ordered the telco to immediately withdraw the adverts from its marketing platforms.

The order came after the ARB ruled against MTN in a recently-filed complaint alleging misleading advertising.

According to the ARB website, an unhappy MTN customer, named Grey Holmes, filed a complaint accusing the telco of misleading customers in its “10GB for R99” data special, also known as the “BozzaGigs” advert.

He argued the advert gives an impression the 10GB is “all day data” when in fact customers only receive 5GB Anytime Data and 5GB Night Express Data, which can only be used during certain times of the day.

The complainant set out that data is normally split into three categories: anytime data, which is available 24 hours a day; daytime data, which is available for the day; and night data, which is available from 23:00 or 24:00 to 06:00.

Therefore, if the data was advertised as 10GB, it was assumed it is anytime data, otherwise it should be advertised as 5GB day and 5GB night data, noted the complainant.

In its ruling, the ARB directorate ordered the removal of the MTN adverts, noting “while the terms and conditions have become a useful tool, as a general principle, advertisers cannot use the terms and conditions to fix a misleading impression which has already been created in an advertisement.”

Responding to ITWeb’s request for comment, Jacqui O’Sullivan, chief sustainability and corporate affairs executive at MTN SA, says: “The process of removing these adverts from our stores and other advertising platforms is currently under way and is being done with urgency.”

In response to the ARB, MTN had earlier argued that any customer who purchased 10GB of data as advertised, would receive all 10GB of data; however, certain data (such as the Night Express Data) may only be used during certain times of the day.

“When purchasing a BozzaGigs bundle in-store, customers would be advised that terms and conditions apply and would either be advised of the terms and conditions, or will be provided with a copy of the terms and conditions,” said MTN.

However, the ARB was not convinced, and responded by stating: “The advertisement could have had an asterisk next to the ‘10GB’ with a corresponding asterisk at the bottom of the advertisement, which states ‘split between day and night data. T&Cs apply’ and then detail the actual split of the day and night data in the T&Cs. This would be acceptable.”