A recent ruling from the Advertising Regulatory Board of South Africa has brought to our attention an incredibly confusing product from the halls of Standard Bank.

The ruling comes after a customer complained about a misleading advert from Standard Bank which you can view below:

The complaint states that the way the advertising is worded it makes it seem as if you are paying a fee which is set as airtime and that airtime is then used at a rate of up to R0.05 per MB.

That’s a damn good deal but unfortunately that isn’t how the scheme works.

Those fees listed are what customers need to pay in order to have their airtime – loaded separately – depleted at those rates.

To get more clarity on this matter we spoke with Standard Bank which explained the scheme a little better.

Essentially the product grants you a lower pay-per-use rate so instead of buying a bundle you will pay per megabyte you use, similar to how other networks manage out-of-bundle data.

The problem with this is that the savings only work out if you are using less data than a data bundle offers.

For example, a 2GB bundle from Standard Bank costs R250. Simple.

Using the third level of the scheme which puts the cost of data at R0.09 for a fee of R99, things are, well, they’re bad.

Using 2GB of data will cost you R184 but with that R99 fee added in you’re now paying a total of R274 for data that would cost you R250 in a bundle.

However, Standard Bank says that were you to use just 1.5GB with the plan in place that we outlined above you would spend just R234. So for those of us that buy a 2GB bundle but don’t use the entire thing, this might be a cheaper option.

The problem however is that while on the surface it looks like you’re getting a good deal, it’s only a good deal if you use less data than a data bundle, at least in the examples

With all of this having been said the ARB has told Standard Bank that it needs to clarify its advertising.

“The Directorate is of the opinion that the advertisement is, at best, phrased ambiguously as it is not clear enough that the promoted monthly fees do not carry any airtime credit but only gives the subscribers an opportunity to be charged at a lower rate when using data or voice calls, over and above the plan cost,” the ARB wrote.

The bank has been ordered to withdraw the advert with immediate effect and not to use the advert in that format again.

While we appreciate that Standard Bank tried to do something new that gives folks more choice, it’s clear that the messaging is confusing and honestly, it’s just easier to buy data bundles.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]