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ASA Ban TalkTalk Broadband TV Ad for “Misleading” 99.9% Reliability Claim

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 (7:51 am) - Score 598

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a TV advert for TalkTalk’s unlimited broadband service after it misleadingly claimed to offer a “network connection that’s a whopping 99.9% reliable” and because it also failed to make clear that the offer was only available to new customers.

The promotion itself touted an offer of 12 months free totally unlimited broadband “with sparkling speeds of up to 17 meg, and a network connection that’s a whopping 99.9% reliable” and called on viewers to “switch today“.

But not everybody was happy and three of the advert’s viewers questioned if the 99.9% reliability claim could be substantiated, while one moaned about the lack of clarity on whether existing customers could benefit. The reliability claim was easy enough because the ASA had only recently banned a similar promotion from Sky Broadband (here).

ASA Ruling (Ref: A15-291940)

1. “We considered most consumers would be interested in the reliability of their end-to-end broadband connection up to the point of their router or into their home, rather than the reliability of certain portions of the overall connection, when making a decision to purchase a broadband package with a particular internet service provider. We also noted that there were external factors that would affect overall connection reliability, which we understood TalkTalk would not have control over. Because the evidence did not substantiate the likely interpretation of the claim, we concluded the ad was misleading.”

2. “We considered consumers might interpret “Switch today” to mean that they could switch to a different package as a TalkTalk customer and the on-screen text “£30 connection fee may apply” reinforced that impression. Because the ad did not make it clear that the package was only available to new customers, we concluded it was misleading.”

As usual the ASA banned the promotion and advised TalkTalk to ensure that any future ads made the “basis of network reliability claims sufficiently clear and did not misleadingly imply their packages were available to all customers“.

In fairness the vast majority of consumers are by now familiar with special promotions not applying to them and thus probably would understand that “switch today” was only for new customers, although we can see a limited point of confusion as raised by the ASA and the complaint.

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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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