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Virgin Media broadband campaign against rivals halted by ASA

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 29 Jun 2011 20:50

Virgin Media broadband campaign against rivals halted by ASA Advertising Standards Authority rules in favor of BT and Sky.
A Virgin Media website setup to criticize broadband services offered by rivals in the UK has been targeted by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The website accused its competitors of "conning" customers in the claims they made about their broadband services.

The website contained a letter from Richard Branson that claims their rivals are not keeping their promises to customers. It also offered a speed test service and linked to material published by the UK communications regulator Ofcom. A video on the website also parodied Sky broadband advertisements.

BT and Sky complained to ASA over the campaign, and Virgin Media defended it, saying it is merely highlighting widespread dissatisfaction among consumers about the advertising of broadband speeds.

Ofcom has tackled the issue before. UK customers who had services advertised as "up to 20Mbit" were found to be generally receiving much lower speeds. In only 14 percent of cases, customers received over 12Mbit, while 58 percent averaged speeds of 6Mbit or less.

Virgin Media had encouraged users to share the information, and after it went viral, the complaints were made to the ASA, which sided with BT and Sky.

"We considered the ad went beyond highlighting the disparity Virgin believed existed between advertised broadband speeds compared to those that were delivered and implied that other ISPs dealt with consumers dishonestly in relation to broadband speeds," the ASA ruling stated. The campaign cannot now appear in the same form again.

"Advertising 'up to' broadband speeds you can't deliver is a con. The ASA, Ofcom, numerous consumer groups and thousands of internet users have all reiterated our call for change and, instead of complaining about a legitimate effort to give consumers a voice in the debate, Sky and BT should step up to the challenge and start being honest about their broadband," a Virgin Media spokesperson said.

Tags: Virgin Media
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