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BT Escape Unlimited Broadband Ad Ban But Scalded for FTTC Coverage Claim

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 (7:37 am) - Score 631
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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected a Virgin Media moan against BT’s use of “Unlimited Broadband” on its website but upheld a consumer’s complaint against a poster ad for the BTInfinity Business (FTTC) package in Manchester, which wrongly claimed to cover the recipient’s area.

In the first complaint Virgin Media, perhaps acting in response to BT and Sky Broadband’s successful bashing of the cable giants own “unlimited” and “no caps” promotions (here), challenged whether the claims “Unlimited Broadband” and “Totally Unlimited” on BT’s website were misleading when placed next to the advertised speed of the service.

Regular readers might recall that Virgin Media’s Traffic Management Policy (TMP) became a bone of contention in last month’s gripe over whether or not their restrictions could be deemed “moderate” for an “unlimited” and “no caps” broadband service. The ASA ultimately ruled against Virgin’s promotion and forced the operator to dramatically soften their TMP.

By comparison the ASA has chosen not to uphold Virgin’s similar attack on BT (here), which was due to a number of reasons including the fact that BT “did not impose any restrictions on the amount of data a consumer could download on a monthly basis“.

But it wasn’t all good news for BT. A separate consumer complaint against a poster advert for the superfast broadband BTInfinity Business (FTTC/P) package, which was headlined “MANCHESTER BUSINESSES. IT’S ARRIVED“, was upheld after a local complainant noted that BT’s service was not available for her business in central Manchester.

ASA Ruling (REF: A13-237829)

The ASA acknowledged BT did not intend to use the claims again. However, we noted the complainant was informed the advertised service was not available for her postcode and that it also was not available for many other postcodes in central Manchester at the time the ad appeared. While we noted the ad included the small print “Subject to availability”, we considered the claims were likely to be interpreted as suggesting BT Infinity was generally available to businesses in Manchester. Because that was not the case, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.

The ASA banned the advert and told BT to “ensure their future advertising did not state or imply that a service was available in a particular area if that was not the case“.

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