Two ads for Virgin Media’s broadband service have been banned by the ASA because of misleading customers over its “unlimited” offer.
The ads, which appeared on the cable company’s own website and in the press, attracted criticism from the likes of BT, Sky and several members of the public on the grounds.
Both Sky and BT successfully complained about the claims on the broadband section of the Virgin Media website, which said it offered unlimited potential to “download and browse as much as you like with no caps and no hidden charges”.
The advertisements were for Virgin’s cable broadband, which is subject to a traffic management policy (TMP) that limits downloads during peak usage time. Virgin altered that policy in April after complaints from the ASA. Under the changes, any customer who exceeded the cap would see speeds cut by 30% for the first hour; if they keep exceeding the download allowance, their speed would be cut by a further 10% for another hour.
Virgin Media provided a copy of a press release by comparison service uSwitch, which it said showed research supporting its belief that the TMP was moderate and its “unlimited” claim had been substantiated and was not misleading.
Virgin Media said it was common within the telecoms industry to refer to broadband and mobile services as “capped” or having “usage caps”, “data download caps” or similar and that exceeding those caps meant consumers were charged or prevented from using that particular service.
Virgin Media has partnered with F-Secure to update its device-level software, and provide 12 months’ free advanced security to broadband customers. All new and existing Virgin Media broadband customers will be able to use F-Secure SAFE browsing protection and parental controls for up to five connected devices. Simple to install and set up, the cloud-based software replaces Virgin Media’s existing security solution to guard against harmful applications, viruses and other malware.
The toys over at Sky may be struggling with their Wi-Fi router, but the ASA has called the day on a direct mail letter/booklet campaign that Sky was running, which the ASA ruled exaggerated the effect of the Virgin Media traffic management scheme. The complaints on points 2,3 & 4 were not upheld, but the ruling on the traffic management is interesting, as the ASA appears to have decided that the 30 Mbps service does not qualify as superfast – further confusing the already confused public and politicians (‘customers receiving Virgin Media‘s superfast services, namely those with speeds above 30 Mb’).
Photo Credit: DDB UK