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Barclaycard defends ads OFT deems 'highly misleading'

LONDON - Barclaycard has defended a '0% forever' credit card promotion that was deemed 'highly misleading' by the Office of Fair Trading, saying that customers seem to understand the offer.

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Barclays Bank has withdrawn advertising and marketing promoting the 0% forever credit card, following criticism that it made an incorrect claim, but said that the offer would still be available to customers.

In its advertising, Barclaycard promoted in large type that the 0% APR would be offered forever. However, further down the ads, in small type, it explained that this related only to balance transfers and that the rate only applied if the cardholder spent £50 or more each month, otherwise the rate was 6.9%.

Responding to the OFT statement, Gary Hoffman, Barclaycard chief executive, said: "Barclaycard does not consider itself to be in breach of the Act and the offer, which has been popular with customers, has not been withdrawn.

"However, we are pleased to respond to this feedback from the OFT. We take transparency very seriously and as such, when a body like the OFT raises a complaint about our advertising, we have to listen carefully."

A spokesman for Barclaycard said that there had been no more complaints about the offer than for any of the other products it offered.

Barclaycard's withdrawal of the advertising and marketing around the offer comes only a few weeks after Matt Barrett, chief executive of Barclays, was roundly ridiculed for telling MPs that he would not borrow money on a long-term basis on a credit card, because it was too expensive.

Despite the faux pas, Barclaycard said that it did not seem to have resulted in customers deserting the company, which a spokesman said was because most people realised that credit cards were not a cheap way of borrowing money on a long-term basis.

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