Virgin Media slammed for misleading adverts

Channel News

Rapped knuckles must be red raw

Virgin Media has failed to learn its lesson when it comes to advertising, once again landing itself in hot water with the Advertising Standards Association (ASA).

The broadband part of the Richard Branson imperium was this time pulled up on a circular, which told residents their street was connected and ready to go for its fibre optic cable services.

In a circular sent round for its services, the company claimed it had already connected the street name so it was “really easy” to turn households on.

“We’ve already done all the hard work and connected your street to our state-of-the-art fibre optic cable.  In fact, you may have seen Virgin Media vans driving around your area.  We’ve done the checks for you and you’re ready to go.  So it’s easy to turn you on to a world of entertainment … All the hard work’s already been done,” it claimed.

It urged residents to “pick up the phone” and arrange a time for an engineer to pop round, install everything and show you how it all works …”.

Small print included “SERVICES AVAILABLE IN VIRGIN MEDIA CABLED STREETS ONLY.  Subject to network capacity, status and credit checks.

However, it was pulled up on the ad after a complainant challenged whether the claims that his street was connected to fibre optic cable were misleading and could be substantiated, because he understood that was not the case.

Virgin Media shot back claiming said the mailing was sent only to people within its network area.  It said premises in the same street had at some point had their services, which confirmed they were on the cable network.  It said their sales system showed that the complainant’s address could receive broadband and digital TV but the address had been marked as ‘unserviceable’ on its postcode checker, because it could not also receive telephone.
It added the problem had arisen as the result of a technical issue with the sales system and it would now make changes so that direct mail would be sent only to addresses that were shown as ‘serviceable’ both on their sales system and postcode checker.

It pointed out that the small print in any case stated that in limited instances cabling might not extend from the street to individual premises and that a survey would be carried out.

Although the SA acknowledged that Virgin Media now intended to send the mailings only to addresses that received the services.  It said that the text  contradicted, rather than clarified, the impression given by the claims that the recipient’s property was ready to receive the advertised services and this made the ad breached its codes.

Virgin Media has been told to ensure it did not in future state or imply that consumers were likely to be able to obtain their services if that was not the case.

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