National Advertising Review Board Recommends Mint Mobile Discontinue or Modify Certain Claims for its Wireless Service
Feb 08, 2024
New York, NY – February 8, 2024 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate advertising body of BBB National Programs, recommended that Mint Mobile, LLC:
- Discontinue promoting its plans using a cost-per-month price or modify such claims to disclose the required prepaid or upfront total cost of the plan;
- Discontinue the claim that it “cut out the cost of retail service and passed those sweet savings directly to you”; and
- Discontinue certain social media posts that conveyed misleadingly disparaging claims about Verizon’s services and business practices.
The advertising at issue had been challenged by Verizon Communications Inc. before the National Advertising Division (NAD). Following NAD’s decision (Case No. 7231), Mint Mobile appealed NAD’s recommendations.
Mint Mobile offers prepaid phone plans, which, unlike plans offered by Verizon and other major wireless carriers, require customers to pay upfront before receiving service.
The NARB panel determined that in connection with Mint Mobile’s advertised $15/mo. Promotional plan for its Unlimited service, it failed to consistently clearly and conspicuously disclose that consumers are required to prepay the entire $45 for three months of service. Accordingly, the panel recommended that it clearly and conspicuously disclose the required prepaid or upfront total cost of its plans across all advertising when promoting a plan with a cost-per-month price. The NARB panel did not agree with NAD’s recommendation that the disclosure must be part of the main claim or in a similar font as the main claim in order to be sufficiently conspicuous.
The NARB panel also recommended that Mint Mobile discontinue the claim that it “cut out the cost of retail service and passed those sweet savings directly to you” because it did not provide evidence demonstrating that it “passes along” any cost savings to consumers. The NARB panel noted that nothing in its decision precludes Mint Mobile from making truthful and non-misleading claims regarding its business model.
The NARB panel also concluded that Mint Mobile did not adequately support certain social media posts that utilized misleadingly disparaging phrases and recommended that it discontinue the claims:
- “Ver!zon Victim finally catching on to their shadiness.”
- “Ver!zon employee trying to convince you that paying for streaming services you used to get for free is a good thing.”
- “POV: “Ver!zon distracting us so we don’t realize they are now charging for perks.”
- “Ver!zon Victim, “Beware of the Bundlef*!”
- “What a Bundlef*! “Ver!zon’s ‘perks’ are now on you. Don’t let them stream you along.”
However, the NARB panel agreed with Mint Mobile that the phrases “#verizonsucks” and “Bundlef*!,” as standalone phrases, can be viewed as the advertiser’s opinion and puffery.
Mint Mobile stated that it would comply with the panel’s recommendations, although it disagrees with the panel’s recommendation regarding certain social media post claims. Mint Mobile also noted it appreciates the panel’s clarification that its disclosures of the total prepaid cost of its plans need not “be part of the main claim or in similar font as the main claim in order to be sufficiently conspicuous.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs, a non-profit organization, is the home of U.S. independent industry self-regulation, currently operating more than a dozen globally recognized programs that have been helping enhance consumer trust in business for more than 50 years. These programs provide third-party accountability and dispute resolution services that address existing and emerging industry issues, create a fairer playing field for businesses, and a better experience for consumers. BBB National Programs continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-and-teen-directed marketing, data privacy, dispute resolution, automobile warranty, technology, and emerging areas. 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.