National Advertising Review Board Recommends that Mint Mobile Discontinue or Modify “UNLIMITED” and “UNLTD” Claims for its High-Speed Data Plan
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New York, NY – December 21, 2021 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate advertising law body of BBB National Programs, has recommended that Mint Mobile LLC discontinue the use of “UNLIMITED” and “UNLTD” headlines in its advertising or modify them to clearly communicate that its plan does not offer unlimited high-speed data.
The advertising at issue had been challenged by AT&T Services, Inc. before the National Advertising Division (NAD) as part of NAD’s Fast Track SWIFT expedited challenge process, designed for single-issue advertising cases. Following NAD’s decision (Case No. 7053), Mint Mobile appealed NAD’s recommendations.
There was no dispute that a Mint Mobile customer who exceeds a specified limit of data usage will, in all Mint Mobile plans promoted in the subject advertisements, have the service throttled to 2G speeds. As concluded by NAD, because of the limits of 2G, throttling to 2G does not provide “unlimited” data as consumers understand that term.
After reviewing the challenged advertisements, the panel agreed with the position of NAD and the challenger that, in context, reasonable consumers would conclude that “UNLIMITED” refers to data. Further, the panel found that advertising claims must be evaluated in the context of a marketplace where consumers are focused on data as a significant factor in their evaluation of competing cellular plans.
The panel noted that it was particularly troubled by the advertisement labeled “YOU’VE GOT DATA,” in which the “buckets” moving from left to right were labeled 4GB, 10GB, 15GB, and, finally, “UNLTD,” which communicated a strong message that the fourth plan provided unlimited data.
For these reasons, the panel recommended that Mint Mobile discontinue the use of “UNLIMITED” and “UNLTD” headlines in its advertising or modify them to clearly communicate that its plan does not offer unlimited high-speed data.
Mint Mobile stated that it “supports the self-regulatory process and will comply with NARB’s decision, although it disagrees with the Panel’s conclusions.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Review Board (NARB): The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) is the appellate body for BBB National Programs’ advertising self-regulatory programs. NARB’s panel members include 85 distinguished volunteer professionals from the national advertising industry, agencies, and public members, such as academics and former members of the public sector. NARB serves as a layer of independent industry peer review that helps engender trust and compliance in NAD, CARU, and DSSRC matters.