O2 draws fire from ASA over text message marketing

LONDON – The Advertising Standards Authority has rapped O2 following a complaint that the mobile phone operator did not allow recipients to opt out of receiving promotional text messages.

O2 was criticised after a customer received a text alert asking her to subscribe to sports services. She complained to the ASA because there was no way to opt-out of future messages.

The ASA ruled against O2 because its campaign lacked "explicit consent".

O2 said: "We were disappointed with the ASA ruling. We believed we had customer consent through the terms and conditions of our service. We are now looking at the possibility of introducing an opt-out for these types of text messages."

At present there are no clear guidelines for SMS marketers. The guidance followed by the ASA and UK information commissioner, who deals with privacy issues, differ drastically.

Cosmetics giant Avon also came under fire from the ASA after it ran a promotion with the Orange mobile network offering customers a free pay-as-you-go phone if they spent more than £15 on Avon products.

Avon ran out of mobile phone vouchers and disappointed a number of customers who were expecting their free gift. The ASA told the company "to take greater care when estimating demand for free gifts on the basis of previous promotions".

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