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ASA UK Ban TalkTalk National Press Ad for Misleading Best Value ISP Claim

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 (7:57 am) - Score 487

A complaint from Sky Broadband (BSkyB) has prompted the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to ban a national press advert for TalkTalk’s triple-play Plus TV bundle of unlimited broadband, phone and TV services after it misleadingly claimed to be “Britain’s best value” package.

Sky apparently took exception to the advert due to the large opening print, which stated that TalkTalk offered “Britain’s best value unlimited TV broadband and phone compared to Sky, Virgin and BT“. But TalkTalk countered by saying it had established a reputation for being a “provider of value-based products” and that reputation was built on the fact that their “prices were among the lowest in the market“. The ASA disagreed and said that “value” is about more than “price“.

ASA Ruling (Ref: A13-220433)

Although we noted that small print linked to the words “compared to Sky, Virgin and BT” stated “Britain’s Best Value 18 month subscription cost comparison”, we considered that the main body of the ad placed greater prominence on the elements of the package itself, and in particular because the words “unlimited TV” were the largest text on the page.

In that context, we considered that consumers would be likely to understand that price was only one aspect of the comparison being made by TalkTalk, and would consequently expect the TV, broadband and phone elements of the TalkTalk package to be comparable with those offered by Sky, Virgin and BT. We understood that the TV element of Sky’s triple play package included significantly more channels than TalkTalk’s, some of which were pay channels, and considered consumers were unlikely to regard that element of the two packages as comparable.

Because the “best value” claim was not adequately qualified to make clear it related to a comparison of package prices only, and because we understood that the features of the packages being compared were not in all cases comparable, we concluded that the claim “Britain’s best value unlimited TV broadband and phone compared to Sky, Virgin and BT” was misleading.”

As usual the ASA banned the advert and warned TalkTalk to ensure that in future they qualified any “best value” claims correctly.

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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