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UPD ASA Slams ISP TalkTalk for Misleading UK Safest Broadband Provider Claim

Posted: 04th Jan, 2012 By: MarkJ
asa ukcheapest talktalk uk broadbandThe UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld several complaints from rival home broadband provider BT and two members of the public against a national press, TV and poster advert for TalkTalk where the ISP "misleadingly" claimed to deliver the "UK's safest broadband" service.

The highest profile TV campaign, which readers might remember from September 2011 before a softer worded version surfaced (YouTube), featured a toy family in a dolls house, guarded by a row of toy soldiers. The voice-over said, "Talk Talk homes have the UK's safest broadband thanks to HomeSafe, free for all customers." The other adverts made almost identical claims.

TalkTalk told the ASA that its promotion was justified because they claimed to be the only home broadband provider in the UK to apply in-built security features at the network level (HomeSafe). This all came before the recent news that several porn sites had found a way to break TalkTalk's protection (here).

The ASA warned that consumers could potentially interpret "safest" as referring to a number of features, such as virus protection or hacking prevention, and that "HomeSafe only offered a basic range of security features". Furthermore the ASA also warned that consumers would be "unlikely to understand" what "network level security" meant. On top of that there's no clear independent evidence or benchmarks to test the "safest" claim.

ASA Ruling vs TalkTalk

As Talk Talk were not able to substantiate that customers would enjoy the safest online experience with them, we concluded ad (a), [(b) and (c)] was misleading.

As per usual the ASA have warned TalkTalk that its related adverts must not appear again in their current form. The authority also warned that any future promotions would need to "ensure that the basis for comparative claims was made clear". Not that big ISPs ever take much notice of such things.

UPDATE 6th January 2012

TalkTalk has effectively now reintroduced similar wording, much to the ASA's annoyance (here).
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