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BT’s TV Adverts Banned for Misleading Infinity Broadband Quality Claims

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016 (8:12 am) - Score 1,491
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Telecoms giant BT has landed itself in hot water again after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was forced to ban three of their TV adverts for making “misleadingBTInfinity (FTTC) “fibre broadband” quality claims versus rival UK ISPs Sky Broadband and Virgin Media.

The three adverts, which were all seen in October 2015, attracted several complaints from Sky Broadband and one member of the public. The first advert (a) boasted of “BT Infinity’s super responsiveness when you’re online gaming” (a vague reference to latency / ping times and or jitter performance) and claimed that BT was better for this than Virgin Media.

The second advert (b) featured a topless man using a hula-hoop 🙄 and boasted that BT Infinity delivered “SUPER SMOOTH VIDEO CALLING“, which later used evidence from a SamKnows report to claim that “BT Infinity offers smoother video calling than Virgin Media.”

The final advert (c) featured a cheetah and an actress boasting about the performance of BT Infinity, which rounded off by claiming that “BT Infinity offers faster download speeds than Sky“. Naturally Sky was not amused and complained that there was not enough evidence in the advert for such a comparison to be verified.

Similarly a member of the public, who claimed to have used both Virgin Media and BT Infinity, complained that they had seen “no difference in their user experience” between either service in reference to online gaming performance (a) and video calling smoothness (b). The ASA ultimately upheld all three complaints and their ruling is very long, making it difficult to summarise.

Broadly speaking the ASA agreed that BT had not adequately tested enough of their service or provided enough evidence in order to substantiate their various claims

ASA Ruling (REF: A15-317382)

We considered that the claims “BT Infinity offers more responsive gaming than Virgin Media” and “BT Infinity offers smoother video calling than Virgin Media” had not been adequately substantiated and therefore concluded that ads (a) and (b) were misleading.

We [also] considered that the claim “BT Infinity offers faster download speeds than Sky” had not been adequately substantiated and therefore concluded that ad (c) was misleading.

We considered that, because not all the necessary data and results were available, the information provided [advert c] was not sufficient to ensure the details of the comparison could be verified by consumers and competitors, and concluded that the ad breached the Code.

As usual the adverts were banned in their previous form and the ASA told BT “not to repeat the claims in the ads unless they held documentary evidence to substantiate them and made available sufficient information about their methodology and data for verification.”

The outcome is hardly surprising because it is difficult to accurately compare latency times / jitter (online gaming performance) or something as ambiguous as the “smoothness” of video calling, particularly as the experience will vary between different customers, locations, servers and network / computer setups (e.g. wifi or wired) etc. The ASA clearly recognised that more data was needed in order to support such claims.

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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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