NTL’s claim that 300K broadband offer was “more than 5 times faster than standard 56K dial-up internet” has been happy-slapped down by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), who condemned it as being in breach of TV Advertising Standards Code.
The offending broadcast appeared on Broadband UK (NTL’s own, self-promotional channel) and extolled the virtues of NTL’s “3 for £30” package, which lumps in a telephone service, a digital television service and a broadband internet service.
The advert claimed that NTL’s broadband service was “more than 5 times faster than standard 56K dial-up internet” with the presenter adding that subscribers could “e-mail your friends and family all around the world a lot faster, in fact five times faster”.
A viewer was having none of it, convinced that the advertisement was misleading, because he believed that NTL’s service was only five times faster than standard dial-up internet for downloading, with upload speeds creaking along at a stately 150K.
In other words, it definitely wasn’t five times quicker a standard dial-up internet connection. No way, Jose.
Issue was also taken with the curious suggestion that emails would somehow be received “five times faster.”
NTL put up a valiant but ultimately doomed attempt to back up their claims when they were hauled in front of the ASA.
The telecoms giant insisted that it was standard industry practice to refer to the speed of broadband only in terms of download speed and, to back up their case, readily snitched on a host of competitors making similar claims.
The ASA were having none of it, pointing out that with consumers increasingly using the internet to upload digital content (e.g. photo files) they were “more likely to interpret the claim as meaning that all internet use (downloading and uploading) would be five times faster unless told otherwise.”
The ASA ruled that the advertising was misleading and that NTL should have made clear that its claim “5 times faster than standard 56K dial-up” was limited to download speed.
The Authority also found that the claim about the “five times faster” email was equally likely to mislead viewers.
Suitably chastised and ‘umbled, NTL have agreed to change the wording of future advertisements. They now have a “grace period” of three months from 8 June to ensure that their wording stays within the ASA guidelines.