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Sky UK Advert Banned for Misleading Setup Fees on TV Bundles

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020 (8:00 am) - Score 1,168
sky broadband uk tv 2020

The UK Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has banned two adverts for Sky’s (Sky Broadband) TV and Netflix bundles, which promoted a £20 or £25 one-off setup fee to new customers but failed to make sufficiently clear that existing customers would have to pay an upfront fee of “up to £219“.

The adverts – seen on both TV and Sky’s own website – were first shown last autumn and mostly covered a mix of TV and Netflix bundles, some of which also included the FTTC based Sky Broadband service into the mix. However, four individuals complained that the promotions had not made details about their setup fees for existing customers clear enough.

The TV advert (a) relegated this detail to smaller text superimposed at the bottom of the screen, which said: “Netflix part of Ultimate On Demand Pack. Upfront costs: £20: new customers; up to £219: existing.” Meanwhile the second ad (b) only mentioned the smaller setup cost for new customers and hid the larger charge for existing customers under a drop-down ‘Offers’ section lower on the same page (i.e. you’d have to click to view it).

In the past the ASA has tended to come down hard on companies that hide key costs, such as setup fees, away in the small print and so it was no surprise to find that they’ve upheld these latest complaints.

ASA Ruling (REF: G19-1042186 Sky UK Ltd)

“We concluded that because the fees that would be charged to different groups of consumers were not made sufficiently clear, ad (a) was misleading.

In relation to ad (b), the main body of text described three different packages available via Sky Q, which included both Sky and Netflix. In relation to the £25 per month package, text stated “Set-up costs: from £20”. Additional information about the set-up fees was displayed in a drop-down section titled “Offers” at the bottom of the web page. Information about the fees was also included in the terms and conditions, which were one click away via the linked text “Terms & conditions”.

We considered that because the set-up fees constituted material information, they should have been stated in the main text of the ad so that consumers were clear as to the full costs which were applicable to their particular situation. Because the full costs were stated only in a drop-down section or one click away, we considered that they were not sufficiently prominent.”

As usual the ASA banned the adverts and told Sky to ensure that, in future, they made material information like set-up costs “sufficiently clear“. The impact of this will of course be extremely limited since the adverts haven’t been run for a long time.

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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.
Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. Qq says:

    Pointless to ban them since it’s an advert from last year, absolutely useless to ban it now.

  2. Buggerlugz says:

    They should be made to refund every existing customer who signed up the £219!

  3. Stewm says:

    From the companies point of view, it is worth running these sorts of adds. One, it brings in customers that may have not done so with a standard deal and second, the adverts don’t get banned until the adverts have finished. Until the ASA gives customers the opportunity to leave, if they were taken in by these adverts and given some financial address and/or companies fined, then why would the companies change?

    1. Stewm says:

      address = redress!

  4. Buggerlugz says:

    It just goes to show that in today’s world companies can say what they like now to sell any product and mislead to their hearts content to get more sales. If there is no immediate redress for customers when companies act in this way what’s the point having the ASA exactly?

    1. GNewton says:

      “what’s the point having the ASA exactly?”

      ASA is a joke, they have actively promoted false “fibre broadband” advertising.

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