ASA Rap for Virgin Media

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BT has welcomed the ASA’s (advertising standards authority) ruling on Virgin Media’s misleading ‘Stop the Broadband Con’ campaign. Virgin’s campaign was judged to have misled consumers on eight counts, contained six examples of exaggeration, failed to substantiate its claims on five counts and denigrated the industry.

The ASA confirmed what was obvious to Virgin customers; when Virgin launched the campaign via social media, Twitter was littered with complaints from Virgin’s own customers suggesting it sorts out its own speeds before criticising others.

One of the most questionable aspects of the campaign was Virgin’s criticism of ISPs advising customers of likely speeds using ‘up to’. Not only did Virgin use up-to speeds itself, it continues to do so now! Customers are clearly voting with their feet by not signing up for Virgin’s broadband.

John Petter, managing director Consumer, BT Retail, said: “This is incredibly embarrassing for Virgin Media: its campaign for the industry to use ‘average’ as opposed to ‘up to’ speeds relied on misleading broadband users to make its point. It also claimed that it delivers around 90% of advertised speeds to customers which, amongst many other incredible statements, was found to be untrue.

“Altogether the ASA found that Virgin Media had misled customers on eight counts, it also found six examples of exaggeration, showed that it had failed to substantiate its claims on five counts and that it had denigrated other companies.

“At BT we provide a personalised speed estimate to all customers via phone into our call centres and also to those buying BT broadband online. They’ll always know what their expected speed will be when they place an order, rather than a meaningless average that Virgin and others are demanding. I hope that a lesson is learned from this.”