British credit card provider Barclaycard has dropped an ad campaign after regulators branded it "highly misleading".
The Office of Fair Trading criticised ads promoting a "0% forever" offer after noticing in the small print that this interest rate applies only to balance transfers. To qualify for the rate, customers must first spend at least £50 ($84.92; €71.23) a month on the card, with these normal purchases carrying interest of 17.9%.
The OFT argues that the ads fall foul of the Consumer Credit Act, under which financial services firms may not put "false or misleading" information in ads.
"Barclaycard promoted this product as offering the opportunity to borrow at 0% interest forever," fumed OFT chairman John Vickers. "It does no such thing. The promotion in these terms has therefore been stopped. Barclaycard owes it to the public to set the record straight."
The advertising fiasco comes only weeks after Matt Barrett, ceo of Barclays bank, scored a well-publicised own goal by dismissing credit cards as "too expensive".
Barrett made his slip-up in a testimony before the Treasury parliamentary select committee, which is investigating whether consumers are fully informed of credit card terms and has described Barclaycard's advertising as "fundamentally flawed".
Although Barclaycard has agreed to withdraw the "0% forever" ad, the firm denies it has violated the Consumer Credit Act. Chief executive Gary Hoffman tried to put a positive spin on the controversy: "We take transparency very seriously and as such, when a body like the OFT raises a complaint about our advertising, we have to listen carefully."
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff