Avon calls the wrong number with 'free mobile phone' offer

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The Independent Online

The cosmetics firm Avon was told to take more care with future promotions yesterday after a "free" mobile phone offer backfired.

The cosmetics firm Avon was told to take more care with future promotions yesterday after a "free" mobile phone offer backfired.

The company, famous for its "Avon calling" slogan, promised customers a voucher for a handset from the mobile phone operator Orange if they spent £15 or more on skincare products.

Avon was forced to renege on the deal after underestimating demand from customers. Reports claim 750,000 people applied for 60,000 phones. Avon, which is based in Northampton, has now come under criticism from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following a flood of complaints.

The original promotion appeared on the front of an Avon brochure sent to customers. The advert read: "Avon free*! pay-as-you-go Orange mobile phone". The asterisk led to small print which read: "Offer subject to availability".

An Avon spokeswoman said: "We aim as a company to achieve 100 per cent product supply. On this one occasion, we were unable to achieve this and for those customers who were disappointed we are truly sorry. But across the country, four out of five customers who were expecting a voucher for a mobile phone received one.

"We have learnt a great deal from this promotion and have examined all our processes for this promotion."

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