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ASA Ban BT Advert for Claiming Sky Would Switch-Off O2 Broadband Users

Wednesday, Jul 9th, 2014 (7:23 am) - Score 917

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a BT direct mailing advert, which Sky Broadband claimed had mislead recipients of the promotion because it implied that Sky would “switch offO2’s old fixed line home broadband service in April 2014 (i.e. suggesting that customers might be left stranded).

The promotion harks back to last year when BSkyB acquired around 500,000 of O2’s Home Broadband and phone customers for an initial sum of £180m (here). At the time customers were effectively given three options, they could either switch to another ISP, allow Sky to migrate them onto their Sky Broadband platform automatically or move to Sky sooner and accept a generous discount (e.g. 12 months free broadband).

However BT’s direct mailing promotion, which was titled “SKY TO SWITCH OFF O2 BROADBAND BY APRIL 2014“, gave a somewhat different perspective on the inside of its pages. The inside letter said, “Did you know that if you haven’t signed up to a Sky broadband package by April 2014, Sky will be able to switch off your old O2 broadband service? So now is the perfect time to start thinking about changing your broadband provider.”

ASA Ruling (REF:A14-257736)

We considered the claim “SKY TO SWITCH OFF O2 BROADBAND BY APRIL 2014” did not mirror the information that had been communicated to O2 broadband customers. Whilst we acknowledged that O2 broadband customers had been informed that their service would be moved from O2 to Sky, we considered the claim “SKY TO SWITCH OFF O2 BROADBAND BY APRIL 2014” went beyond the information provided to consumers and would imply, both to those who had read previous notices of the changes and those who had not, that Sky were going to automatically switch off O2 customers’ broadband service by April 2014.

Because we understood that Sky would not switch off the service of O2 broadband customers, rather it would be moved from O2 to Sky, we considered the claim “SKY TO SWITCH OFF O2 BROADBAND BY APRIL 2014” was likely to mislead. On that basis, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.

As usual the ASA banned the advert and told BT not to be such a naughty boy again, although in fairness BT said the claim in question had already been removed from their advertising.

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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