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TalkTalk Ads Banned for Claiming to Offer Britain’s “lowest priced” Broadband

Wednesday, Jul 9th, 2014 (7:56 am) - Score 556

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a mailing, website and press advert for TalkTalk after a member of the public and BT complained that the ISP was misleading the public by claiming to offer “Britain’s lowest priced” totally unlimited broadband service in all three promotions.

The adverts themselves were referencing TalkTalk’s new Simply Broadband package, which at the time was being offered for £2.50 per month (usually £3.50) + £15.40 Line Rental. Take note that this package currently costs £1.75 per month for the first 6 months of service, while the standard Line Rental has since increased to £15.95 per month.

Interestingly the ASA’s ruling doesn’t so much check whether TalkTalk’s claim was accurate as to chastise the advert for only including a comparison with selected competitors and then leaving those details out until the small print, which was considered by the watchdog to be “not prominent enough“.

As a result the ASA ruled that the adverts for all three promotions were misleading because “in the absence of any further explanatory text, most consumers would believe that, at the time the ad appeared, TalkTalk offered the cheapest unlimited broadband package in Britain“. In fairness they were one of the cheapest, although in this field their closest competitors aren’t the big ISP and instead tend to be Primus Saver, Direct Save Telecom and Tesco etc.

ASA Ruling (REF: A14-260109)

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told TalkTalk to make clear the basis of their comparisons in future, and to ensure that significant information relating to those comparisons was given sufficient prominence.

It’s worth mentioning that determining whether or not a particular service is the “cheapest” somewhat depends upon the individuals own circumstances and requirements. For example, a service might seem cheap on the surface (monthly fee) but other charges, such as new line / migration fees or whether you choose to pre-pay line rental in advance for an extra discount, may affect how the overall cost to you is balanced.

Similarly TalkTalk’s Simply Broadband deal doesn’t include free UK calls, but rival promotions do and again the value placed upon this aspect will vary from person to person. Suffice to say, it’s not always something that a simple comparison can quantify as the same for everybody.

UPDATE 10:45am

TalkTalk has given us a statement.

A TalkTalk Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

We’re committed to making Britain better off and consistently offer our customers Britain’s best prices for TV, broadband, mobile and home phone. As such TalkTalk homes make significant savings in comparison to our competitors. We note the ASA’s comments about ensuring comparison text is prominent and look forward to continuing to provide Britain’s lowest prices.”

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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