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Virgin Media Direct Mailing Advert Banned for Misleading Half Price Offer

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 (8:21 am) - Score 543

Cable operator Virgin Media has had one of its Direct Mailing (booklet) adverts banned by the Advertising Standards Authority after it failed to make immediately clear that the half price offer it was peddling didn’t apply to the cost of line rental.

The promotion promised “massive savings on TV, broadband, calls and mobile“, although inside the booklet the text stated that customers would “pay half price until January next year … Just £4 a month for 6 months then £8 a month with a Virgin Phone line for £14.99 a month“. But only on the reverse did it make completely clear that the half price discount was “not applicable to line rental“.

ASA Ruling (REF: A13-246467)

Although we acknowledged that if a consumer read the offers within the booklet they would understand that the half-price offer did not include line rental charges where applicable, we considered that the fact line rental charges were excluded from the saving was significant information which should have been included on the front cover of the booklet.

Because we considered that most consumers reading the claims on the front cover of the booklet would understand that the half-price saving applied to all the packages within, and include line rental charges where applicable, we concluded that the ad was misleading and in breach of the Code.

As usual the advert was banned and the ASA told Virgin Media to make clear if line rental charges were excluded from their offers. It’s not the first time Virgin has been warned about masking the cost of line rental and the same complaint has also been levelled against other ISPs.

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Mark Jackson
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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2 Responses
  1. Avatar TomL

    This is funny because I had a problem getting the ‘Half Price for 6 months (Save £67.50) Fibre optic broadband only (18 months)’ offer from this exact brochure. I was keeping hold of it after reading in the small print that it was ‘available until at least 31st October 2013’. When ringing up in early October the sales woman insisted that this was no longer a current offer and they could only do a current £10 off for 4 months offer which I’d seen they’d changed the website to show not long after receiving the brochure. I asked to speak to her manager who was just as unhelpful. I’d offered to e-mail them scans of the brochure and small print to prove it but he couldn’t provide me an e-mail address to use. He offered to call me back in a few days. Of course this call never came so I called back on a weekend and a much more friendly and helpful chap confirmed the same but gave me his e-mail address instantly and said he would show and discuss it with his manager and call me back before the end of his shift. Within 15 minutes he’d called back and advised they would do me a bespoke offer of the same terms but on the standard 12 months package. So they’d lost out by trying to breech their own T&Cs hoping I would just go away.

  2. Avatar RLP

    When are the ASA going to start teething?

    For several years now they have instructed all the ISPs to withdraw or change their marketing material because it was misleading.

    Isn’t it about time that the ASA started to fine ISPs when they produce material which is misleading?

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