Ooredoo has hit out at the country’s communications ministry, ictQATAR, after it publicised a decision to suspend all advertising for its ‘4G For Free Forever’ campaign, it was reported.
In a statement ictQATAR said the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) had conducted its own analysis of the ‘4G For Free Forever’ campaign and “concluded that the advertisement is in fact misleading and it creates the perception that the 4G service and data are for free”
According to tariff filing, it is only the 4G key that is free and the subscribers are to be charged for data as per the data tariff lodged and approved by CRA.
Ooredoo has been instructed to remove all current promotional materials for its 4G campaign, and has been told that it must mention the phrases “key service” and “terms and conditions apply” in any new advertisements for the service, Doha News reported.
It is the third adverse finding for the company since 2011.
However, Ooredoo has refuted the claims, saying it had not received any complaints from customers who felt they had been misled and had done its utmost to “brief customers on the service in a fully-transparent way”.
Ooredoo also hit out at ictQATAR’s tactics to announce the suspension of its advertisements via a press release.
It said “to aggressively pursue this press release with the local media with further negative comment against Ooredoo” went against “all previous precedent”.
The company claimed ictQATAR had recently upheld complaints about misleading advertising against two other telecom operators, but did not choose to publicise the decisions.
In 2011, the ministry ruled that Ooredoo (then named Qtel) had to shut down all Qtel Virgin Mobile-branded services. In its ruling, the authority said it had found that Qtel Virgin Mobile services were marketed to the public “in a manner that was misleading or deceptive”.
In May 2012, ictQATAR ordered Qtel to clarify “confusing and/or incorrect information” about Blackberry service rates after unexpectedly high charges for data usage appeared on customers’ bills.