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ASA Ban TalkTalk Ads for Misleading Mid-Contract Price Rises Claim

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019 (8:04 am) - Score 7,151

A complaint by UK broadband ISP Plusnet has resulted in the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banning a website and TV advert for TalkTalk’s service, which saw them “misleadingly” claim to be the “only major provider to guarantee no mid-contract broadband price rises on all our plans.” Except they aren’t.

In its response TalkTalk said they compared their services against BT, Sky Broadband and Virgin Media, concluding that only their own products offered fixed prices on all their broadband plans. However TalkTalk admitted that other ISPs may have offered fixed price plans, although they did not deem Plusnet to be a “major provider.”

The advertising watchdog agreed that there was no accepted definition of “major provider” in the broadband market but they also noted that Plusnet had been included in one of Ofcom’s major quality of service reports (not to mention other ISPs like the Post Office, Vodafone etc. appearing in their quarterly complaints studies etc.).

ASA Ruling (REF: A18-465533)

We considered consumers would not generally be aware of the market share of each broadband provider and that there were other factors which influenced whether consumers would consider a company as a “major provider”, such as brand awareness, number of customers and advertising presence.

There was no accepted definition of a “major provider” in the broadband market, although we noted from Ofcom’s Comparing Service Quality 2017 report that Plusnet had been listed as a major provider of broadband. We considered that despite their lower market share, Plusnet provided services to a large number of customers and had a significant advertising presence. In light of that, we considered they would form part of the group of providers that consumers would readily identify as the leading names in the industry. Because Plusnet also offered fixed-price broadband packages, we concluded that the claims in ads (a) and (b) were misleading.

The ASA banned the advert and told TalkTalk not to make the same claim again unless they broadened their definition of “major providers” to include other ISPs that “consumers would readily identify as leading names in the industry.” Such a flaky definition could in theory result in some medium sized providers calling TalkTalk out for such claims in the future, if made again.

Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. George Harper says:

    I find there’s not enough being done about any off them ee are the same they all say about good deals then they increase the price half way through its unfair shouldn’t be allowed more needs doing check ee they just sent letter my mobile contact going up not fair

    1. New_Londoner says:

      Any chance of some punctuation to make your post intelligible?

    2. Mr TMG says:

      Price rise is through RPI for mobile like you will have with other mobile providers.

      You can also leave fee free as it says on their website for broadband price rises.

  2. George L says:

    Also, for millions of subscribers they *still* managed to introduce a bid: contract price rise, by adding a charge for the TV service that was previously free. And because the TV service is basically Freeview, it turned out the price rise was optional, if you could be bothered to phone up. They are as hopeless as the rest.

  3. Daniel Gozin says:

    I am 12y now with Talk talk broadband TV telephone and mobile. The last three month I have had problems with all their services. They dropped mobile service which results in a price rise of 9 pound a month. They send three engeneers and new routers with no result. The broadband speed was 3 mbs and 0-1 mbs upload. Their advert claims ten times more average speed and half the price I’ve been charged. That kind of practice should be illegal.

    1. Ibtissam Flynn says:

      I have the Same problem with BT

  4. Alessandro says:

    I’m really annoyed about the price raised by talktalk, every month is a surprise for asking to pay 2 time in a month and they block my account and asking me to pay for the account to be paid or I’ll not get the service back on. I believe that is illegal.

  5. Ronald Fraser says:

    They should be CLOSED down all their services are CRAP, they tell you that your package is £23.95 a month for everything on a 24 month contract I am now paying £36.00.
    Cant wait until my contract is up.
    Cant understand their customer service personnel.
    They way they treat their customers is ILLEGAL.

    1. John says:

      Same with Virgin media buddy new contract last year Feb 2018 100meg+ line £23 a month after three months £26 £29 £39 not one call made on landline phone.
      Phoned them up asking why my bill is £39 they said router charge and maintenance charge I was like wtf are you on about.

  6. Jack says:

    TalkTalks customer support is outstandingly the worst! Had issues with the ADSL dropping out so a TT engineer came and only replaced the Mastersocket which didn’t fix nothing, he didn’t do any tests whilst here so I don’t know why they sent him when he can’t really do much on a Openreached owned line. Next thing Openreach came and said it’s a faulty router or high interference on the line but fixed the interference by adjusting some issues. Still not fixed so next was the router to be replaced. Had that done and has worked absolutely fine. Contract was up anyway and the 32mbps package is cheaper than what we pay now for 11mbps so we took that out and are now awaiting the upgrade. Throughout all the dilemma the Openreach engineer I can’t fault him was brilliant but the TT support took over 5 hrs in calls and then one of the people we spoke to sounded drunk and kept slurring her words and mixing them up in the end had to hang up and call again

  7. Jigsy says:

    TalkTalk increased the price of our legacy connection to £27.

    £27.00 for 3 Mbps is a joke.

    Ended up calling them yesterday for a discount on my Internet because the £27 for a subpar connection (Thanks BT and your continuing refusal to upgrade the infrastructure) is a joke.

    Now paying £13.50 for six months. Then I’m back to square one.

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