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Virgin Media told by ASA to change "unlimited' mailing advert

# 26 April 2009, 08:04 by Cable Forum

Virgin Media was forced to change one of its mailing adverts this week after a member of the public complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). A direct mailing from Virgin Media stated “Dear XXXX, If you think switching to the Mother of all Broadband for only £4.50 a month is a long drawn out process think again”. The mailing included a table, which was headed “PICK A FIBRE OPTIC BROADBAND SPEED TO SUIT YOU” and detailed Virgin Media broadband packages of varying download speeds. Text below the table stated “Unlimited downloads and internet security come as standard”.

Small print stated “Acceptable Use Policy applies”.

The complainant was challenging the claims made by Virgin Media in the mail ad whether “Unlimited downloads … come as standard” was actually sufficiently qualified. The complainant was aware that Virgin Media imposed a speed cap restriction between 4pm and 9pm but in the advert it wasn’t made clear what restrictions existed.

Virgin Media have responded to ASA by saying that the use of “unlimited” had previously been approved by the ASA, on the grounds that it was qualified with a footnote disclaimer that stated “acceptable use policy applies”.

ASA however, still upheld the complaint. In their response, ASA had said:

“We considered that the “Unlimited downloads” claim was a significant factor likely to influence consumers’ purchasing behaviour and the condition attached to it, a traffic management policy at peak hours, should, therefore, be made apparent. We concluded that the mailing should have included a link to the relevant area of such extensive small print to alert consumers that the “unlimited” claim was subject to conditions for some users. We welcomed VM’s willingness to add to the small print to clarify that a traffic management policy was in place and asked them to make clear the peak hours when it applied.”

The mailing breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness) and ASA ordered Virgin Media that the mailing advert must NOT be used again in its current form.

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