Carphone Warehouse, Phones4U and 3 have stopped using the word “free” to promote laptop deals. The move comes after the industry was rapped by media regulator Ofcom.
It is understood that Carphone Warehouse believes “free” could be seen as misleading and fall foul of trading standards regulations. However, DSG is using the term in its laptop promotions in Currys.digital retail stores.
A industry spokesperson says the removal of the word is a legal issue rather than a marketing issue.
Retailers and operators are looking into bundling laptops together with fixed or mobile broadband contracts, emulating the free phone format that exists in the contact handset market.
Mobile operator Orange launched its own branded laptops into shops last month, as part of the strategy led by chief executive Tom Alexander.
In June, Carphone Warehouse said it was cautious about the year ahead, despite a 75% leap in pre-tax profits to £216m for the year ended March 31. Its broadband customers rose by 19% to 2.7 million but says the number of new broadband customers since April has been fewer than expected.