Softbank Mobile Corp. said Wednesday it plans to change the content of its advertisements, possibly by this weekend, in response to an investigation by the Fair Trade Commission into whether the firm’s “zero-yen” campaign was misleading.
“We may have sent messages to customers that were too sensational,” company spokesman Fumihiro Ito said.
In a bid to catch up with other carriers, the unit of Internet services firm Softbank Corp. made advertisements that tout free calls and e-mail between Softbank mobile subscribers.
Softbank’s bigger rivals, NTT DoCoMo Inc. and KDDI Corp., complained the ads are misleading because conditions such as time restrictions on free calls and e-mail are in very fine print.
“Because the (FTC) probe just started (Tuesday), we haven’t yet decided how we should change the contents of the ad,” Ito said, adding the carrier will probably come up with a new ad design, “hopefully by this weekend.”
But Ito said Softbank believes the ads do not violate fair advertising laws, noting the firm wants to avoid hurting its brand image.
Citing unnamed sources, Kyodo News reported that Softbank will probably make the characters “zero yen” smaller in the ads and make the restrictions more prominent.
The mobile phone service announced the steep discounts on Oct. 23, a day before the launch of number portability, which lets customers switch carriers without changing phone numbers.
But Softbank came under fire for having to stop processing applications for new subscriptions and cancellations twice last weekend because its computer system overloaded. The company said it did not have a figure of how many applications it received during the periods the system was down.
Softbank President Masayoshi Son, an aggressive entrepreneur who entered the business by purchasing the Japanese unit of Britain’s Vodafone PLC, apologized Monday for the system crash and admitted the system lacked the capacity to handle the large number of applications for the new service.
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