The Advertising Standard Agency has ordered Samsung to pull two "misleading" online and television adverts.
In an adjudication published today, the ASA said it had received complaints over adverts which claimed customers would receive a free Samsung Galaxy tab or money off the firm's products when they upgraded to high-end Samsung models.
The ASA deemed this claim to be untrue because very few models of phone were eligible for the offer, a fact which was only made clear in the small print.
The TV ad said: "Trade up now to a Galaxy Note II and you could get a free Tab 2 or money off selected Samsung products."
At the end of the advert, text appeared on-screen text which said: "T&Cs apply, selected smartphones, 16+."
But while 30 different phones qualified for the discount offer, the free Tab 2 offer was "conditional" on three models. Customers could only receive a Galaxy Tab 2 if they handed over an iPhone 4, an iPhone 4S or the Samsung Galaxy SII.
Samsung had argued that the three different storage sizes of the iPhones made for six different models of phone that could be traded in, but the ASA ruled that "consumers were likely to understand the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S as only two different smartphones", meaning that just three phones were eligible for the offer.
The ASA said: "We considered the condition that three smartphones could be traded in for consumers to receive the free Galaxy Tab 2 was significant and therefore needed to be clearly stated in the ad. We therefore concluded the ad was misleading."
The online advert said customers who upgraded to a Galaxy S III, Note II or S III Mini could receive a free Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 worth £279 or other discounted Samsung devices when they handed in an old smartphone.
This was followed by small print which stated: "Free and discounted product offer only available when selected smartphones are traded in." A video explaining the offer was posted on the site along with an FAQ.
Again, the same three models of phone were the only ones that were eligible for the free tablet offer.
The ASA added:
We considered the condition that the Tab 2 offer was only available for consumers who traded in three smartphones was significant information likely to influence consumers' decision or understanding about the promotion and therefore needed to be made clear in the body copy. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading and breached the Code.
The ASA concluded:
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Samsung Electronics (UK) Ltd to make clear that the Tab 2 was only free for those who handed in one of a very limited range of smartphones.
In its defence, Samsung insisted that due to the "volatile" trade-in values for smartphones, which could change daily, they could not accurately advertise the level of discount or the smartphones that could be swapped for a Galaxy Tab 2.
The South Korean corporation also insisted that it had clearly informed customers that only certain smartphone models were eligible for the offers.
A Samsung spokeswoman said: "“We have assisted the ASA Council throughout this investigation and we will comply with the recommendations made." ®