Saturday, 18 February 2012

Virgin Media slap BT for misleading ads

BROADBAND rivals BT and Virgin Media have been at war yet again over their advertising campaigns.

This time Virgin Media have come out on top.

The provider made three complaints that BT Infinity's adverts were misleading, two of which were upheld.

Virgin blasts BT ads

The complaints focused on BT's claim that Most of our customers are already seeing at least three times faster speeds and the invitation to Join now.

Virgin Media claimed that these statements suggest that most of BT customers already had the service and that the service is widely available, which is not the case.

BT is in the process of rolling out its fibre service, with a plan to have it available to 40% of UK households by 2012 and 66% by 2015, something which BT argues is clear in the adverts.

In one ad BT stated that the fibre service had arrived but only in the small print stated that coverage was limited.

The ASA stated that the telecoms provider had been honest with readers but had not been clear enough in the body of the advert.

Virgin also claimed that the series of BT adverts suggest that up to 20Mb broadband offered to customers without Infinity was a fibre product.

However, in this case, the ASA ruled in the favour of BT and said that consumers would understand.

"The text in the paragraphs above the claim explained that BT Infinity was [its] 'new fibre optic broadband' and that the claim at issue itself stated 'If you can't get BT Infinity just yet, order up to 20Mb broadband instead and we'll upgrade you to Infinity if and when it becomes available'," the ASA adjudication stated.

BT forced to change

As a result of the upheld complaints, BT has been forced to change a part of its marketing campaign.

In response to ASA's ruling, BT states that the Join now invitation featured in the advert was in fact an error and that the company would ensure that it made it clear that not all customers would be able to obtain the service in future adverts.

"Minor clarification"

Since the ruling BT has said that they believe the amendments to be very minor compared to the broadband complaints that have been upheld against its competitor Virgin.

Between the two companies there have been several ASA rulings.

But the watchdog has not yet made a decision on 'up to' broadband speeds - something that many groups have been campaigning against in recent months.

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