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BT and Sky Get Virgin Media Ads Banned for Misleading Price Claims

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 (8:04 am) - Score 1,063
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The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has once again banned several adverts for Virgin Media’s various broadband, phone and TV bundles after BT and Sky Broadband (BSkyB) complained that the operator misrepresented the pricing and potential savings of its packages.

This week’s rulings actually stem from two separate investigations (REF: A14-270704 and A14-273731) against several of the national cable operators adverts. In the first report, BT moaned that a direct mailing advert for Virgin Media’s triple-play TV bundle was misleading because it claimed to give consumers a “special offer” with “SAVING WORTH UP TO £162” and made multiple references to costs of “£00.00” for service features like catch-up TV, BTSport and TV-on-demand; most of which were already included as standard as part of the normal monthly price.

ASA Ruling (Ref: A14-270704):

Whilst we noted Virgin Media’s assertion that some of the elements listed had been included in the bundle at no extra cost, we understood that some of the other elements were simply offered as standard, and therefore their cost was accounted for in the bundle price.

In addition, whilst we noted that some of the claims stated “included”, or “included with our Premiere Collection”, we still considered that the overall impression of the “£00.00” claims, particularly given their prominence in comparison to the explanatory text, was that the listed features of the bundle had been discounted to “£00.00” as part of the special offer. Because that was not the case, we concluded that the price claims were misleading.

In the second report (A14-273731), Sky Broadband and a member of the public challenged several aspects of a major TV advert (featuring the actor David Tennant) and a press advert, both of which were for Virgin Media’s Big Kahuna Bundle.

Sky complained that the TV advert, which among other things depicted a wall mounted TV showing a football match on Sky Sports and included on-screen text stating “Sky Sports subscription required from £17/month“, was misleading because it implied that Sky Sports was included in the advertised price. Crucially the TV advert ended with David Tennant giving a conflicting statement, “Get it all for just £30 a month for the first six months,” which was enough for the ASA to ban it.

Similarly a member of the public complained that the TV advert misleadingly implied that Virgin Phone Line Rental was included in the advertised price, which of course ending up being banned for exactly the same reason as Sky’s complaint (i.e. the cost of line rental was displayed, but the “get it all” statement at the end gave a conflicting impression).

Finally, a press advert for the same Big Kahuna Bundle stated that “Sky customers, we could save you over £370 a year” and made mentioned of a £49.95 installation fee in the small print. Naturally Sky wasn’t too pleased and attempted to get the promotion banned by suggesting that the installation fee hadn’t been factored into Virgin’s savings claim. The ASA agreed that the ad failed to give sufficient prominence to that information and banned it.

As usual the ASA warned Virgin Media, much as it has done oh so very many times before, to ensure that their ads were not likely to mislead consumers in future and to make sure that material information was given sufficient prominence. The operator was also told not to imply that elements of their bundles had been discounted, or offered for free, if that was not the case.

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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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15 Responses
  1. Would be great to be able to take advantage of Virgin’s misleading advertising.

    Sadly stuck with Openreach and speeds slower than Virgin delivered to me over 2.5 years ago.

  2. Avatar Gadget

    look on the bright side though, if Openreach had also declined to enable in some shape or form you’d be using a WISP or satellite

    • No, I’d more likely have been able to get co-funded FTTP enabled here by a company that cares more about investment in network than football rights.

      As it is Openreach are getting handsome returns on a pretty minimal investment and people are for the most part happy. At least, until FTTC isn’t enough and BT Group are too busy competing with Sky to see who can overpay most for content to want to spend on the telco/ISP side.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      Who would co-fund FTTP for you?

    • Avatar Raindrops

      If the BT zealots were to read your blog Ignitionnet they would realise you probably would not of ended up with anything if it was not for your campaign. Instead though they want to paint BT as your areas saviour and not your own efforts.

    • Avatar No Clue

      Ah yes i remember Ignitionnet and Leeds being his neck of the woods. Home of one of the many areas BT promised and FAILED FTTP areas which has now turned into a “super city” voucher scheme.

    • ‘TheFacts
      October 15, 2014 at 10:52 am
      Who would co-fund FTTP for you?’

      We would have contributed to build costs.

      Talking of build costs wonder how the second FTTC cabinet for our PCP is doing?

    • Avatar No Clue

      Oh my!! Still not made head way in the promised help for your full cabinet?

    • 2nd cabinet should have been in the ground a month ago. Still in planning stage.

    • Avatar No Clue

      Wow, that has been a fight for over 3 months now for you has it not (around June/July when the cab was out of room)? You would think with such relatively poor take up of FTTC, BT would be falling over thereself to get a cabinet in an area that has already shown high demand, i guess not 🙁

      Wish you the best in the latest fight Ignitionnet.

    • I’m not ‘fighting’.

      BT are the ones not making the extra revenue and losing out.

      Had we a similar situation to NTT in Japan things would likely be quite different but we don’t.

    • Avatar No Clue

      “Fight” was perhaps the wrong term, ask BT, prey and hope seems more appropriate.

  3. Avatar Raindrops

    “… it claimed to give consumers a “special offer” with “SAVING WORTH UP TO £162” and made multiple references to costs of “£00.00” for service features like catch-up TV, BTSport and TV-on-demand”

    Pretty much like the garbage i got all summer from BT for special summer deals with “free” BT Sport included then.

    “…Sky complained that the TV advert, which among other things depicted a wall mounted TV showing a football match on Sky Sports and included on-screen text stating “Sky Sports subscription required from £17/month“”

    Pretty much like every Sky advert then.

    Seriously there is no doubt Virgin have made some dishonest adverts in the past but now the complaints from the competition are becoming laughable. Its actually refreshing to see Virgin dont bother complaining like a small child about the others (according to the ASA anyway) dishonesty.

  4. Avatar George Drain

    Just installed Plusnet broadband at my holiday home in Brora Sutherland, discounted cost £9.99 per month (market1 exchange). Currently pay £2.50 per month (discounted) at my main address in Glasgow (market 3 exchange). Complained to both my Glasgow MP and my MP for Brora. This BT / Ofcom practice is devisive and anti competitive. We are trying to open the Highlands up to business this will not happen if communications costs are not levelled out and the same no mater where you live. Infrastructure is bit an issue as no additional equipment is required in the local exchange. BT Wholesale provide the ISP’s with the access codes to the BT equipment at the local exchange. A visit is not normally required to the exchange.

  5. Avatar finaldest

    Can I have my optical cable now??? I was told that I have fiber optic.

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