FTC puts a limit to limited “Unlimited” plans

Over the years, the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) has been receiving complaints regarding the use of the word ‘unlimited’ by telecommunications service providers. Based on these complaints the types of ‘unlimited’ plans vary, but the result is always the same. Consumers are enticed by advertisements to participate in plans which allow ‘unlimited’ calls or services for a specified period. Believing that ‘unlimited’ represents its ordinary and usual meaning ‘without limit’ or ‘unrestricted,’ the consumer buys the plan; only to discover that there is a cap or ceiling. Examples of such previous plans include the ‘Anyone World Plan,’ and the ‘VIP Talk Unlimited Plan.

In most cases, including the examples named above, the limited meaning of ‘unlimited’ is set out in the terms and conditions of the providers’ contracts. While providers maintain that the ‘special’ meaning is clearly set out in the contracts and therefore should cause no confusion to consumers, the complaints continue to appear at the FTC.

Based on the number and frequency of these complaints, effective July 12, 2010, all providers are advised that the word ‘unlimited’ must be given its ordinary meaning only, in all representations made to members of the public. Plans which are qualified in any way, or to which conditions attach, should not be referred to as unlimited.

Plans which are capped or otherwise qualified, and which are referred to as ‘unlimited’ or any other word which may convey a similar meaning, will be treated as being misleading or likely to mislead the public. These matters will be vigorously pursued as breaches of the Fair Competition Act.

Consumers are warned to be particularly vigilant when the word ‘unlimited’ is used in advertisements. Read the fine print and obtain all relevant information to determine whether there is a cap or ceiling to the services being offered.

Remember, Competition gives you choices. It is up to you to make the best choice!

For information on the Fair Trading Commission see our website at http://www.jftc.com

David Miller
Executive Director
52 GRENADA CRESCENT, KINGSTON 5 FAX (876) 960 – 0763
E-MAIL: ftc@cwjamaica