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ASA UK Bans Virgin Media Advert for Misleading Fibre Optic Coverage Claims

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 (7:42 am) - Score 1,356

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has once again banned an advert for Virgin Media’s service after one of its circular promotions (e.g. spam letters) was deemed to have misleadingly claimed that an individual’s street had been “connected” to its “state-of-the-art fibre optic cable“.

The promotion said: “Dear Householder We’ve already done all the hard work and connected your street to our state-of-the-art fibre optic cable. In fact, you may have seen Virgin Media vans driving around your area. We’ve done the checks for you and you’re ready to go. In fact, all you have to do is pick up the phone“.

At the bottom of this circular some small print confusingly added that the service was only “AVAILABLE IN VIRGINMEDIA CABLED STREETS” and that “In limited cases, cabling may not extend from the street to individual premises“. On top of that Virgin Media said that it only issued the circular to those within its networked areas.

According to Virgin Media, the individuals address was within its coverage but had been marked as “unserviceable” due to an unexpected construction issue that prevented the phone service from being provided. Part of this was then blamed on a “technical issue with their sales system“, which the operator promised to rectify so that only “serviceable” addresses would receive the promotions.

ASA Assessment (REF: A12-202296)

We considered the ad would be understood to mean the recipient could receive Virgin Media services.

We noted the ad included the small print “SERVICES AVAILABLE IN VIRGIN MEDIA CABLED STREETS … In limited cases, cabling may not extend from the street to individual premises. A survey will confirm this as soon as possible after enquiries being made. Check if your home’s connected at virginmedia.com …”

However, we considered that contradicted, rather than clarified, the impression given by the claims that the recipient’s property was ready to receive the advertised services. We noted that was not the case and therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.

As usual the ASA banned the advert and told Virgin Media “to ensure they did not in future state or imply that consumers were likely to be able to obtain their services if that was not the case“. The BBC consumer affairs TV show, Watchdog, comically scalded the ISP earlier this month after 25 of its adverts were banned for being misleading (now 26).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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