Last week (8 July 2015) the ASA ruled against Number Directory Ltd t/a contactvirginmedia.com, a telephone directory website that offered a call-forwarding service, for misleadingly implying an association with a third-party telecoms company and for not making clear the advertised number was more expensive than the third party’s official customer services number.

We have seen similar websites for call-forwarding services to airlines, utilities and telecoms companies, amongst others, and consumers are urged to check the website closely before making a call.

The best way, of course, to ensure you have the official contact number is to check the company’s own website.

From a marketer’s point of view, call-forwarding services should make clear they provide a call-forwarding service rather than an official number for third-party services:

  • Rather than saying “contact x here”, claims such as “We can forward your call to x” and “We can connect you to x” are less likely to give a misleading impression.
  • A prominent statement making clear the nature of the service is advisable, but a disclaimer alone would not be sufficient to dispel a misleading association with a third party website, so marketers should avoid repeated references to a third party and its products, or using similar colour schemes as the third party’s corporate branding.

Call forwarding services should also make call charges clear, in line with Ofcom's Clearer call charges, which came into force on 1 July. Please also see our advice on call charges.

If a marketer would like advice about complying with the ruling or the CAP Code in general, please contact the Copy Advice team for free bespoke advice.

If you are a consumer or marketer and are concerned about claims on a call-forwarding service website, please make a complaint via the ASA website, which will be passed to the appropriate ASA or CAP team.

By James Tebbett, Senior Compliance Executive

Jim is a Senior Compliance Executive and has been a member of the Compliance team since 2011. He is currently working on projects about “copycat” websites, the scheduling of alcohol ads on television and online behavioural advertising.

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