The Advertising Standards Authority has issued rulings against three ads by BT for their broadband speed advertising, all of which claim to offer ‘the fastest fibre speeds as standard’. So have you tried testing your broadband’s speed?
The ASA said that these ads ‘would make consumers think that BT Infinity had a faster headline speed than any other provider‘. It ruled that the claims were not sufficiently substantiated and that those ads were misleading.
Here at Which?, we think that broadband companies get away with far too much in their adverts – so it’s welcome that the ASA has taken action here. We’d like to see it take advertisers to task more often, particularly on the use of ‘up to’ speeds in adverts for broadband.
Currently, adverts can make a claim with the prefix ‘up to’ to cover all manner of sins. Only 10% of customers actually need to be able to achieve those speeds in order for the claim to be made on the poster.
Broadband speed claims
Earlier this year the ASA finally agreed to look into ‘up to’ speed claims, but since then we’ve not heard anything from them. Hopefully this positive ruling will remind them that there’s still plenty to do clean up ads for broadband packages. We’ll be hearing from them shortly on how they plan to sort out the mess.
In August Vodafone announced an end to line rental fees, and TalkTalk will soon follow suit. This is partly a response to calls from the ASA to be more clear on pricing. Yes, the cost is probably absorbed into the single bill, but at least customers know what they’re paying up front, and the headline price is the price you’re eventually going to pay. This again shows that when the ASA are bold and take a stand, the broadband industry listens.
Update: 17 November 2016
Today brings a great win for our broadband campaign as the ASA and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) have finally agreed that ‘up to’ speed claims can mislead some consumers.
It’s been two years since we launched our campaign calling for a change to these advertising rules, so we’ve been pushing for this for quite some time. The ASA finally agreed to review these ‘up to’ speed claims and carried out its own research over the summer.
ASA, Chief Executive Guy Parker, said:
‘New research indicates that speed claims in ads contribute to consumers’ expectations of the broadband speeds they’ll receive, but their expectations are not being met. That needs to change.’
Commenting on today’s news, Which? Managing Director of Home & Legal services, Alex Neill, said:
‘This research proves what Which? has been saying for years. Advertised broadband speeds can be misleading and many people are unaware that they may never get the attractive high speeds on offer.’
But we’re not done yet on this campaign. The ASA will now run a short consultation on the alternatives to advertising speed claims and announce the new rules in spring 2017.
Do you know if you’re getting the broadband speed you’re paying for? Please use our Broadband Checker tool and report back in the comments if the speed is what you expected.