Japanese cellcos rapped over misleading ad campaigns

13 Dec 2006

Japan’s Fair Trade Commission has censured the country’s three mobile network operators NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank Mobile over what it sees as ‘misleading advertisements’. The consumer watchdog’s reprimand casts some doubt over the new mobile number portability (MNP) regime, brought in October this year ostensibly to give end users a better deal. The Financial Times writes that while it is common for the Fair Trade Commission to attack the country’s food and drug companies, it is unheard of for it to criticise an ‘entire industry at the same time’.

The consumer watchdog warned Softbank Mobile over its ad campaign that claimed that users would pay nothing extra for mobile calls made outside their monthly price plan’s flat rate, and criticised the large-print ‘Zero Yen’ banner which masked the caveats of the package, written in smaller print at the bottom of the advert. DoCoMo and KDDI meanwhile, were given lesser ‘cautions’ for their alleged misdemeanours. The former was criticised for an advert suggesting that customers subscribing to a family discount service would receive a discount for calls after only a month, when in reality the discount only applied after two months. KDDI received a slapped wrist for an ad claiming that all new customers would get half price services, when in fact new users would have to wait eleven years for the offer to kick in.

Japan, KDDI (au), NTT DOCOMO, SoftBank Corp