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ASA Upholds Four Complaints against a Press Advert for UK ISP TalkTalk

Posted: 02nd Mar, 2011 By: MarkJ
uk advertising authorityThe Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld four complaints made by BT and PlusNet against a regional press (newspaper) advert for TalkTalk UK's phone and broadband ISP package. The complainants' claimed that TalkTalk's ad compared dissimilar services, didn't factor in BT's existing price promotions and that the "unbeatable value phone and broadband" claim was wrong.

The Ad

"Save up to £154 over 18 months vs BT+. Unbeatable value phone and broadband £6.99 a month. Our Essentials package includes: Up to 24Meg broadband ... Unlimited evening and weekend calls to UK landlines ... FREE wireless router".

Small print linked to the first claim stated:

"BT comparisons: Savings based on subscription cost comparison over 18 months to BT More Broadband and Calls with Evening and Weekends at £2.99/month. Inc. TalkTalk £29.99 connection fee & £12.04 line rental but exc. any additional disconnection charges. BT offering inc. additional security features; pop-up blockers & parental controls. TalkTalk inc. Super Secure Boost at £2/month".

The Complaints

BT challenged whether the ad was misleading because:

1. the BT package used in the comparison was not the most similar to the advertised TalkTalk package;

2. the comparison was based on a line rental charge higher than BT's best available price; and

3. it failed to mention that BT currently had price promotions on both the most similar line rental and broadband and calls products.

4. Plusnet challenged whether the claim "Unbeatable value phone and broadband" was misleading because they believed they offered a comparable and cheaper package in the region where the ad was published.

The ASA found in favour of BT and PlusNet on all four counts, describing TalkTalk's advert as "misleading" for using incorrect comparisons. The somewhat toothless watchdog told TalkTalk that its advert must not appear again in its current form.
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