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ASA rules against Telewest over broadband ad

# 26 January 2005, 16:09 by Frank

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today published its adjudication results after four complaints were made by British Telecom and members of the public in relation to a recent advert entitled “BLUEYONDER HAVE CUT THE PRICE OF BROADBAND”.

In the advert, Telewest Broadband made various claims about its 256Kbps service in relation to BT’s 512Kbps offering. Statements qualifying these claims were buried at the bottom in multiple, linked footnotes that spanned multiple pages.

The four complaints were:

  1. Three members of the public challenged whether the comparison of the advertisers’ 256kbps service with BT Broadband’s 512kbps service was misleading. (Not Upheld)
  2. BT challenged whether enough prominence was given to the difference between the compared broadband packages. (Upheld)
  3. One member of the public objected that the claim “free modem” was misleading, because it implied the advertisers’ customers would be able to keep the modem. (Not Upheld)
  4. Another member of the public objected that the advertisers’ description of their product as “faster broadband” was misleading, because it was merely 256kbps. (Upheld)

As ISP Review points out, the ASA is bordering on contradictive by not upholding complaint 1 and at the same time upholding complaint 2.

In respect to complaint 1 (upheld), the ASA’s reasoning was that “BT did not offer a broadband service of less than 512kbps; it considered that the advertisement made clear the advertisers’ broadband service was 256kbps”.

However, the ASA then contradicts itself nicely by ruling on complaint 2 (not upheld), stating:

The Authority concluded that the advertisement was misleading because it did not make clear enough that the BT broadband service was 512 kbps and told the advertisers to state such significant conditions prominently in future.

This adjudication brings the number of complaints upheld against Telewest in the last twelve months to three.

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