Business Insider Edition

Discovery Bank implies you'll get a free iPhone for switching, and that is misleading, an advertising regulator says

Phillip de Wet , Business Insider SA
 Dec 13, 2019, 11:04 AM
Discovery Bank's free iPhone
The small print on Discovery Bank's "iPhone on us" offer is critical, a regulator says.
  • Discovery Bank offers an "iPhone on us" if you switch to it – but you have to pay for it first.
  • If you achieve certain conditions linked to Discovery Vitality, you get a refund for the phone.
  • Those conditions were not clear on all in-store advertising, a regulator has ruled, which caused the misleading impression that Discovery Bank was giving away free iPhones.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

Discovery Bank has created the misleading impression that you can get a free iPhone by switching to it, an advertising regulatory has ruled in banning some of its advertisements.

The new challenger bank offers an "iPhone on us", but that's not quite accurate, the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) said in a ruling this week.

"The iPhone is not 'on' the Advertiser, it is on 'on' the consumer's credit card," the ARB said in its decision.

See also: You’ll soon be able to get a free iPhone 11 and Apple Watch from Discovery Bank. Here’s what we know.

The iPhone offer requires signing up for Discovery Bank, and activating Discovery's Vitality Active Rewards. You can then buy the iPhone on your credit card and, if you hit certain Vitality goals, you receive a refund on it.

Those conditions are specified on a lot of Discovery Bank's advertising – but was notably absent on some in-store advertising at iStores, which simply referred to "T's and C's" applying over the offer "Get the new iPhone on us".

Nobody would actually believe that implies a free iPhone just for becoming a Discovery Bank client, the company told the ARB, and it is not relevant that one of the conditions of the scheme is that customers must pay for the iPhone first.

The regulator did not agree.

"The claim... communicates to consumers that they will get the iPhone once they upgrade to Discovery Bank," the ARB said in ruling against Discovery. "The words 'on us' imply that the offer is similar to a 'free' offer, and subject to no duty on the part of the consumer. The offer is 'on us'; not 'on achieving your goals'."

Discovery was ordered to immediately withdraw the ads. 

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