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Press releases 2002 -

Box Telecom agrees to call time on misleading directory enquiries ads

PN 56/02     6 September 2002

Box Telecom Ltd, Mediaburst Ltd, The Telephone Directory Ltd and directors Jeremy Bygrave and Alexander Heslip have agreed to stop issuing misleading advertising for the internet business directory.

The Salford-based companies and their two directors provided written assurances under the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations after the case was referred to the OFT by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The advertisements, sent by fax, invited businesses to send their details to a premium rate fax line if they wished to amend or in some instances maintain their entry in the internet directory. The advertising misled by giving the false impression that:

  • the faxes were sent by or on behalf of a telephone company providing a directory enquiry service accessed by telephoning '192', such as BT
  • recipients of the faxes will only be listed (or continue to be listed) in the 192 Directory Enquiries directory if the fax is returned.

The OFT recently obtained a final injunction in the High Court against Planet Telecom Plc of Wigan, director Peter Hutcheon and former director John Tonge, to stop similar misleading advertisements for the internet directory (formerly

John Vickers, Director General of Fair Trading, said:

'This is the second time in recent months that the OFT has taken action against misleading directory enquiries advertising. We will continue to work with the ASA and Trading Standards to prevent any advertising which misleads customers.'


1. The ASA referred the case to the OFT on 27 May 2002. The ASA had previously upheld complaints against Box Telecom Ltd on 13 February 2002. Further details can be obtained from the ASA website (click on 'adjudications').

2. The High Court injunction against Planet Telecom Plc of Wigan, Peter Hutcheon and John Tonge was obtained on Monday 22 July 2002 (see press release 44/02).

3. The Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations (CMARs) 1988 came into force on 20 June 1988 implementing an EC Directive on misleading advertising. The role of the OFT under the Regulations is to support and reinforce existing controls, not to replace them. The Regulations give the OFT the power to step in if the public interest requires that advertisements complained of should be stopped by means of a court injunction.

4. The OFT can act only when a complaint has been received. To come within its scope an advertisement must be misleading (i.e. it must deceive or be likely to deceive), and be published, in connection with a trade, business, craft or profession, to promote the supply or transfer of goods and services.

5. In this release the functions of the Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT) under the Regulations are for simplicity described as the functions of 'the OFT'. The Enterprise Bill proposes to replace the office of the DGFT with the OFT, to which would be transferred the DGFT's functions.

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