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ASA UK Ban Sky Broadband TV Ad After BT Complaint on Pricing

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 (8:11 am) - Score 7,680

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a TV advert for one of ISP Sky Broadband’s bundles with their Pay TV service, which featured the popular computer-animated Minions characters from Universal Pictures, after rival provider BT complained that the price offer was “misleading.

At issue in the TV advert, which was aired during September 2020, was the pricing of their Superfast Broadband (FTTC/P) and Sky TV bundle, which at the time was being offered at a discounted rate of £39 per month for the first 18 months of service. Text underneath showed a crossed-out price of “£52” next to text which stated “£39 a month for 18 months. Setup £39.95“, while small text at the bottom of the screen defined this as “Sky TV (£21pm), Superfast (£18pm), Pay As You Talk (£0pm) – usually £52pm.”

BT complained that the ad should be considered “misleading” because they believed that the price of Sky TV and Broadband was already less than £52 when bought together. Sky countered that the price of £52 referred to the cost of taking Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast as separate standalone products (i.e. the saving reflected the price difference when taking those products as a package, rather than separately).

ASA Ruling (Ref: A20-1078483 Sky UK Ltd)

“While it was possible to purchase Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast individually, we also understood that when purchased together those elements formed a package, which was priced differently. The price of that package, however, both during and before the promotional period was £39. We therefore considered £39 was the established selling price of buying Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast as a package.

We considered that by comparing the combined promotional price of Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast to the normal selling price of purchasing those products individually, the ad implied consumers would save money by buying them together. However, because we considered the savings claim did not represent a genuine saving against a usual selling price, we concluded that it was likely to mislead and breached the Code.

The ruling appears to add some useful clarity over how pricing for bundles vs standalone products should be promoted in the future and that applies to all providers, not only Sky. Meanwhile Sky has been told not to run the advert in its current form again (this will have no impact on them since it finished ages ago) and to “ensure that future savings claims represented a genuine saving against a usual selling price.”

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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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13 Responses
  1. Avatar Anna says:

    But I know someone who just signed up and they are paying £54… where as I pay £49 and we have the same services.

    So they were right and also wrong – but Sky won’t like that. can BT ne next for advertising the most reliable wifi broadband when there is no such thing?

    1. Avatar Howard Walker says:

      The very term ” wifi broadband ” is false. Wifi is the output of a router. The router does not have to be connected to a broadband service to produce WiFi, as mine which purports to be connected to Three.com still sends out a signal when it’s not receiving one a lot of the time.
      I don’t know how these companies like Vodafone, Three and BT get away with it.
      If they were garages they would have gone bust years ago. The controlling authority need a spanner up its backside being twisted hard before anyone is going to get any service out of these rogue companies

  2. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    I just don’t get how different customers are even allowed to be paying different prices for the same services? Why isn’t OFCOM doing something about that?

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Discounts are pretty normal across all competitive sectors, not only broadband. You pay different prices for lots of things that are the same services or products.

    2. Avatar 125us says:

      Because that’s how competitive markets work. Do you believe the ticket price on a car is the price of that car?

  3. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    I think the discount system has a lot to answer for. If everyone was treated the same, then they could offer far more competitive packages.

    1. Avatar T says:

      But what about the customers who claim their loyalty and expect more off? You can’t have the same for all. No matter what is done there would still be a group of impossible to please people expecting their backsides wiped.

    2. Avatar Shazidur says:

      I know how you feel, and I am totally against misleading adverts etc, but the fact is, there are many factors which adds in your favour regarding discount like how long u have been with them for, the longer U have been with them the greater the discount, so that’s why summer people are paying different prices for the same service, hope that clarified it, but I reckon they are still expensive not just sky by by we Vodafone virgin,

    3. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

      All it does is confuse the situation beyond all recognition. Take the ludicrously overpriced Virgin services for example. I had 12 discounts on my account because I’d been with them a decade, all of which were expiring month after month, meaning every month I’d have a different amount taken. I had no idea what discounts I was receiving. This was after I’d agreed a fixed monthly amount with retention’s at the end of my contract term (which I did every year, told them I’d leave unless they agreed a fixed price (was on £20 a month for 100Mbps). In the end I left because regardless of credits to put things right I had absolutely no idea what they’d take every month, one month it’d be £27, the next month £32, then £25, I couldn’t trust them anymore and felt no other solution but to leave.

    4. Avatar T says:

      You just sound like the typical impossible to please customer mate. All your comments make you appear like that. Nothing is ever your fault

  4. Avatar GNewton says:

    Does anybody still take ASA serious? ASA still allows misleading “fibre broadband” adverts to this very day. What’s needed is a proper agency who’d actually deal with misleading ads, ASA doesn’t cut it.

    1. Avatar Gary says:

      Indeed, The ASA seem to have a random appreciation of whats ok and of what ‘average’ people think is ok or not.

      How we’ve allowed the constant use of ‘meat’ naming on vegetarian products is one of my pet hates,

      The current Birds eye ad for “Chicken free dippers” makes me want to scream.

      They are also I assume, rat free banjo free cat poop free dippers.

  5. Avatar Anna says:

    Sky are con artists!

    I moved house – no changes but they have put my price up by £17 a month! – Removed all my in contract discounts AND extended me for 18 more months!

    And YET it says on the house move section of sky.com UNLESS you make changes there will be no contract renewal!

    Going to have a press field day with this one!

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