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ASA Slaps Fast4 For 'Unlimited' Advert

Posted: 10th Mar, 2004 By: MarkJ
UK unmetered dialup ISP Fast4 has had a rather embarrassing complaint against it upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The Authority found that Fast4's claim to offer 'UNLIMITED INTERNET ACCESS' could not currently be justified due to a lack of "sufficient reliability":

Complaint:
Objection to a magazine advertisement, for Internet services, that claimed "UNLIMITED INTERNET ACCESS £6.99 EASY MONTHLY PAYMENTS FREE 0808 Dial up FREE pop3 email FREE web mail NO contracts ...".

The complainant, who subscribed to the advertised service, objected that the claim "UNLIMITED INTERNET ACCESS" was misleading because the telephone line for access to the service was often engaged and, when the line was available, subscribers were sometimes unable to access the service.

Adjudication:
Complaint upheld

The advertisers said they described the service as "unlimited" because they did not limit the amount of time subscribers could spend online; they said the only restrictions on the service were the contention ratio and session limit. The advertisers explained that, because of service interruptions, some subscribers had had to redial before they connected to the service.

They believed the complainant had been unable to connect to the service because he called at the busiest times of day. The advertisers said they had changed their advertisement to include the claim "terms and conditions apply"; they sent a copy of their terms and conditions, which stated the contention ratio and session limit for the service. The advertisers did not send evidence, when asked, that they had reasonable grounds for believing that they could satisfy demand.

The Authority noted the complainant had had difficulty connecting to the service at all times of the day. It considered that the advertisers had not shown that the service was available to subscribers with sufficient reliability to justify the claim "UNLIMITED INTERNET ACCESS". The Authority asked the advertisers to ensure they could demonstrate that they had reasonable grounds for believing that they could satisfy demand before advertising products in future.


It’s quite possible to offer what Fast4 does, although as we’ve long stated, paying less for more often results in a degraded service; especially so for unmetered dialup providers.

We’re pleased to find that such services must now prove they can offer what they promote, with a good level of reliability, before advertising it in such a way.
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