Thursday, 9 April 2009

The great unlimited debate

Well not really great, and not really a debate.  Perhaps the asa requires an up to date dictionary whilst returning the one they were forced to borrow from ofcom.

Today, well it was a while back - before i had a break, (and lo and behold they've popped along 'n snuck something in for a rescue), the british advertising standards authority (asa) allowed mobile companies to use the word unlimited in their advertising, regardless of the fact that an advert (which sparked the initial complaint) from carphone warehouse's spin-off - e2save; had in microscopic handy small print a clause stating unlimited meant, "data transfer that is limited to 250mb per month".

Now before i popped the word (unlimited) into a couple of online dictionaries, i wandered through the dusty reaches of the vast echoing emptiness that passes for my mind, searching for the accumulating morass of meanings i'd come to understand and associate with the term unlimited.

From everything i dredged up, i could only deduce one over arching meaning.  It meant without cap.  Endless.  Goes on and on and on and ... the antonym of limited.  You know, the full 180-about-faced-slap-reversing-two-sided turn.

The sort of scenario where if fund manager were to say "'i'm going to ensure your income returns are unlimited," you know to keep them talking whilst pressing the fed button.  But back to the definitions...

A quick brief clip from the free dictionary

un·lim·it·ed (n-lm-td) adj.

1. Having no restrictions or controls: an unlimited travel ticket. 2. Having or seeming to have no boundaries; infinite: an unlimited horizon. 3. Without qualification or exception; absolute: unlimited self-confidence.

Even if they'd utilised version number 2, who in their right mind then went on to suggest that 250mb was just peachy?

And just in case i've copypasted the wrong bits, here's another from merriam-webster

1 : lacking any controls : unrestricted <unlimited access> 2 : boundless , infinite <unlimited possibilities> 3 : not bounded by exceptions.

So a term and its meaning, which has more or less been agreed upon since the 15th century, the asa and ofcom have decided (seemingly) to hijack, for the benefit of... the industry.

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