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Sky Gets TalkTalk’s Misleading “Britain’s BEST DEALS” Broadband Ad Banned

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015 (7:29 am) - Score 693
uk advertising standards authority

UK ISP Sky Broadband has successfully nudged the Advertising Standards Authority to ban a TalkTalk press advert, which was ultimately ruled to have misleadingly claimed to offer “Britain’s Best Deals on totally unlimited broadband packages“.

The advert itself, which included a comparison with BT’s cheapest options, promoted TalkTalk’s “totally unlimited broadband” package as normally costing £3.50 per month and now being “FREE for 12 months. £16.70 monthly line rental applies“.

On a number of occasions the advert also noted that the comparison with BT’s rival deal was based on an “18 months” term, although Sky complained that this was misleading because its own package would have been cheaper than TalkTalk over a 12-month minimum contract term for the same time period.

ASA Ruling (Ref: A15-295834)

Sky offered its customers a 12-month minimum contract term for its totally unlimited broadband service and we understood that over 12 months, Sky were cheaper for that particular package than TalkTalk. We acknowledged that over 18 months, TalkTalk was cheaper than Sky for all three advertised packages and noted the ad stated that the comparison was based on an 18-month period, both in small text above the small print and within the small print itself.

Although we acknowledged the headline claim had been qualified in the ad, we considered it was not sufficiently prominent because of its location and could be overlooked by consumers, especially in the context of an ad containing detailed pricing information. Consequently, we considered the qualification should have been more prominent so it could be read in conjunction with the headline claim, for example, located within the body copy where it detailed the prices for each package.

Because we considered the ad also implied that “Britain’s BEST DEALS on totally unlimited broadband packages” applied to the cost over 12 months, and TalkTalk was not the cheapest for all of the advertised packages over that period, we concluded the claim was misleading.

As usual the ASA found that the ad breached its rules and told TalkTalk to ensure that any future price comparisons “made sufficiently clear the contract period over which they were calculated“, which we assume means that TalkTalk would have needed to stick the “over 18 months” part right in the headline text instead of just the body content.

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