Mint Mobile Appeals National Advertising Division Recommendation to Modify or Discontinue ”Unlimited Plan” and Disparaging Verizon Claims
New York, NY – October 24, 2023 – In a challenge brought by Verizon Communications Inc., the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Mint Mobile, LLC:
- Discontinue or modify the claim that its Unlimited Plan is “now just $15/mo.”;
- Discontinue the claim that it “cut[s] out the cost of retail service and passed those sweet savings directly to you”; and
- Discontinue falsely disparaging claims about Verizon’s services and business practices.
Mint Mobile offers prepaid phone plans, which, unlike plans offered by Verizon and other major wireless carriers, require customers to pay up front before receiving service. Mint Mobile’s $15/mo. price for its Unlimited Plan is a promotional rate that is only in effect for three months. After three months of service, the monthly rate increases with the exact amount of the increase dependent on which plan the consumer selects.
In banner ads, on social media, podcasts, and in a television commercial, Mint Mobile advertises that the price of its Unlimited Plan is “now just $15/mo.” NAD found that the challenged advertising does not adequately disclose that the $15 monthly service for its Unlimited Plan is a promotional offer for only three months service. Accordingly, NAD recommended that Mint Mobile discontinue the claim that its Unlimited Plan is “now just $15/mo.” or clearly and conspicuously disclose, as part of the main claim or in similar size text and font in close proximity to the main claim, that the offer is a promotional offer for three months of service that requires a $45 upfront payment.
NAD recommended that Mint Mobile discontinue the claim that it “cut[s] out the cost of retail service and passed those sweet savings directly to you” because it did not provide sufficient evidence demonstrating that it in fact “passes along” savings to consumers.
NAD determined that certain claims made by Mint Mobile in social media convey broad messages about Verizon’s service and business practices. For example, the claims “Ver!zon Victim finally catching on to their shadiness” and “POV: “Ver!zon distracting us so we don’t realize they are now charging for perks,” portray Verizon as dishonest in its approach to consumers and how it prices its services.
Further, NAD found that some claims do not focus on any particular reason why consumers would be disadvantaged by purchasing one of Verizon’s bundled offers for streaming services but rather disparage Verizon’s practices more broadly. For example, Mint Mobile invokes Verizon’s bundled offers by referring to them as a “Bundlef*!”
Because Mint Mobile did not adequately support these broad disparaging messages, NAD recommended that it discontinue the claims:
- “Ver!zon Victim finally catching on to their shadiness.”
- “Ver!zon employee trying to convince you that paying for streaming services you used to get for free is a good thing.”
- “POV: “Ver!zon distracting us so we don’t realize they are now charging for perks.”
- “Ver!zon Victim, “Beware of the Bundlef*!”
- “What a Bundlef*! “Ver!zon’s ‘perks’ are now on you. Don’t let them stream you along.”
NAD noted that nothing in its decision precludes Mint Mobile from making truthful and non-misleading claims comparing its services with Verizon’s.
During the inquiry, Mint Mobile voluntarily permanently discontinued certain challenged claims. Therefore, NAD did not review those claims on the merits.
In its advertiser statement, Mint Mobile stated that it will appeal NAD’s decision in its entirety because it disagrees with NAD’s conclusions that it did not adequately disclose the limitations of its $15/mo. offer and did not substantiate its claim regarding passing along savings to consumers. Mint Mobile further disagreed with NAD’s conclusions regarding its social media posts, stating that it “is proud to challenge the status quo by issuing barbs about its competitors on social media – and substantiating any specific claims it makes about them – in an environment that encourages robust dialogue.”
Appeals of NAD decisions are made to the BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate-level truth-in-advertising body of BBB National Programs.
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