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back to article BT's 'unbeatable' Infinity broadband ads banned by ASA

BT has been collared by Blighty's advertising regulator, the ASA, which upheld four complaints brought against the telco giant. It ruled that BT's Infinity ads as shown on telly, published in the press and run online were misleading. The watchdog added that none of the commercials should appear in their current form again. …

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Good

Along with their misleading 'fact's they will hopefully they can also scrap that stupid storyline.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Good

I'd avoid BT simply for their crappy ads, even if I didn't already know their equipment / speeds / customer service / pricing were rubbish.

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Re: Good

The subtext to the current ads seems to be "only a total wanker would use our product". A strange message to put across, I think.

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Anonymous Coward

Crappy Ads?

Crappy Ads?

One Word: Maureen Lipman

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4 times faster

I take the advertised speed is aspirational - that is it is up to 4 times faster than the speed they actually deliver

What makes me smile is that the ASA only do something when they are pushed hard. They ought to me monitoring and squashing this sort of thing themselves

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FAIL

Oh look another wrist slapping exercise by the ASA AFTER the ad has finished its run... what is needed is a proper regime which can either pull ads as soon as there is a complaint... or impose huge fines... because as this stands the whole thing is a farce and has no consumer protection or deterrent value at all.. the companies do as they please and the regulator tuts and says "naughty... don't do that again" while the companies laugh knowing that they got the warped message they wanted out there with pretty much zero consequences.

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Or broadcast an apology with equal prominance/airtime to the original ad.

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Truth in Advertising

What should REALLY happen is that ANY form of advertisement can only speak the clear, unadulterated truth (to use the American terms, "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you <Insert Deity Here>". All testimonials must be for TYPICAL results, and all claims about performance must be conservative and/or state the worst case prominently. If you can't sell your product on its own merits...then you probably shouldn't be selling your product, natch?

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Re: Truth in Advertising

Exactly. Rather than an ickle fine, the ASA should be allowed to prevent the company from advertising for a period. That'd learn 'em.

Actually, a better idea would be that they for a period they have to run adverts apologising for misleading customers, eg.

A person standing in front of their logo, saying "We apologise for misleading customers about product X". That's it, no additional information so they can't promote their product.

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Re: Truth in Advertising

As good as it sounds on first thought - any advertising time is advertising time - and done the right way, someone coming on apologising can easily be made to be satirical or even warm the hearts of the right demographic.

Better to force them to write to every customer to tell them that they can have their line removed without contract termination if they so wish, and that they are only in future going to charged them for the bandwidth they actually receive on the carrier.

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Re: Truth in Advertising

Have you seen the film Crazy People with Dudley Moore? he plays an advertising executive who does just that, creates adverts with the honest truth in them, they ended up working really well too.

I'm guessing BT's honestly approach would lose them business though.

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Re: Truth in Advertising

No, it's better that they not be allowed to sell the product being advertised for a certain period. A false ad about a product means the product is forced off the shelves for a few weeks. And a false ad about a COMPANY? Well, what you said AND being forced to pay a cut of your global revenues, with the proceeds to go to a fund to compensate people defrauded by companies who go under when forced to compensate them.

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FAIL

Did there need to be an investigation?

"BT" - "Unbeatable".

Surely, unless the words "in bad customer service" or similar were suffixed, there's a case for false advertising just on those two words alone.

I work in a private primary school. We run two ADSL2+ lines, that are frequently flaky enough that I had to fashion a load-balancer and remote-reboot equipment to make them work anywhere near reliably (and we have 3G backup). We enquired about BT Infinity and similar products. We were told they weren't available.

Just as a clue: We are 30m from the exchange (I could literally through an Ethernet across the road without struggling), a large business user (we easily fill 2 x 24Mb lines for the working day, and at night with backups if nothing else), in the centre of a large town inside the M25, and they can't sell us a product that they're pushing on TV nationwide.

You do have to wonder exactly what they consider their customers to be. I'm assuming the answer is "other ISP's that can't run their own lines", rather than the people who actually pay for their phone lines.

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Anonymous Coward

Large business?

So you have one more line than a residential property, but yet consider yourself a large business. You truly are circulating in the upper echelons of business IT good sir.

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2x24Mb lines filling for a primary school? holy jesus. At a large secondary school circa 2400 kids we only run 2x20mb lines (with an 8mb backup) running off a good old vigor 3200. what in gods name are you pulling down? I suggest a caching server (squid! squid! squid!).

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Re: Large business?

Showing your ignorance there, AC. One extra line for upward of one hundred users (sometimes several hundred) in the education sector is not unusual, in my experience. But you would class such environments as a small business? A very, very strange post.

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Next to exchange

Quote: Just as a clue: We are 30m from the exchange (I could literally through an Ethernet across the road without struggling), a large business user (we easily fill 2 x 24Mb lines for the working day, and atnight with backups if nothing else), in the centre of a large town inside the M25, and they can't sell us a product that they're pushing on TV nationwide.

The reason they won't sell it is most likely because, being so close to the exchange, you should get next to top speed. They won't be able to deliver that however because their crumbling network simply is incapable of supporting it, but they can't then use your distance from the ecvhange as a factor in it being unobtainable. Thus thier lies would have been uncovered very quickly.

With this ruling on the table now, you might find they will be 'able' to supply it, and at a huge discount since it isn't going to be advertised anymore.

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Boffin

Re: ASA ruling

The ruling is not that they are not allowed to advertise the product again ever, I'm not sure where you got that idea from.

It just means they can't show those particular adverts again. Their message however has still been communicated to potential customers, and they have probably had their money's worth out of the run already.

So really all they have to do is pay for a new advert to be made.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Mr Zoolook

"Any more" is two words.

Think about the meaning of the words you write.

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Anonymous Coward

Unbeatable?

"invisible" would be more accurate for most of the country, given BT's apparent "any cabinet but yours" policy.

I only wish Ofcoms misleading use of "average" in relation to UK speeds fell under the ASA remit so they could put the kybosh on that too.

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Anonymous Coward

Considering the pigs ear job of repairing the road they dug up outside my house to install fibre last week I'm not surprised the reality of their packages fails to meet the advertising lies they put out.

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this is regular piss-taking

tactics by ALL companies. They make up a claim, they know very well it's just bull. So what They know the competition is watching closely. So what? They know they will get a slapped wrist. But then, so what? The adverts have been aired, you can't take it back, the slap is just that, a slap, no penalty. So... until the next ad, bye!

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I'm still waiting for them to stop Virgin from touting their 'fibre-optic broadband'. This is quite clearly just a length of coax running into my house, not fibre.

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coax

You're probably on a FTTC link, so some of your path is fibreoptic anyway!

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Stop

Re: coax

They can't justifiably claim their offering is "fibre-optic broadband" when the fibre portion ends at the street cabinet, surely? Given that individual customer lines arguably start at the cabinet, what you're paying for is a copper coax link to a fibre-optic network.

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FAIL

They should have used "Unbeatable*"

After all, they're allowed to use "unlimited*".

Shame on the ASA for the lack of consistency

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Re: They should have used "Unbeatable*"

It is limited... very limited by the size of the pipe! and as you say torrents are throttled

I

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Re: They should have used "Unbeatable*"

Steve Evans - please don't use "rape" in this sense. It's pretty damn offensive by any standards.

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Re: They should have used "Unbeatable*"

If he'd said he had "murdered" it, I doubt you would even think of complaining. I take it then that you believe rape to be more serious than murder?

Or maybe its a figure of speech.

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Re: They should have used "Unbeatable*"

From their Infinity ToS:

"14: We may also take action to manage the network's performance during periods where there is a high demand. Please refer to the 'Help' section at www.bt.com/broadbandusagepolicy for more details.

15: If you use the service in any way that we consider is likely to be detrimental to the provision of the service or which may adversely affect other customer's enjoyment of the service we reserve the right to terminate your service immediately. "

So there's their universal get-out clauses.

Infinity Option 1 has a 40GB cap, which is easy to hit with some minor torrenting. The Option 2 "Unlimited" cap I'll admit to seeming like a good deal (they only throttle P2P traffic according to their policy docs, during the peak hours of 4pm-midnight M-F, 9am-midnight WE)

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Re: They should have used "Unbeatable*"

I was just wondering why my post got the mod hammer... It's a common phrase round my way for maxing a connection big time.

Goddam political correct mine-field!

Jeeez.

Is blasphemy allowed?

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Re: They should have used "Unbeatable*"

Thank you Robert, I got mod-hammered anyway.

Glad I'm not the only one who has read beyond the headline definitions in the dictionary:

rape noun

4. an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation: e.g. the rape of the countryside.

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@Martin Re: They should have used "Unbeatable*"

Don't be so over sensitive - the word rape does not singularly refer to sexual assult.

Please see:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rape?s=t

World English Dictionary:

rape(n):

3. any violation or abuse

In this case, the abuse of the OP's new connection by him hammering it for all it's worth.

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Re: @Martin They should have used "Unbeatable*"

I didn't expect your comment to be modded. But I still hold by my statement.

You'll rarely or never hear a woman use the word in this casual way; most of them will find it extremely offensive to hear it used in this way. Because we men are in a majority here, we can hide behind the dictionary. But it's still offensive.

It's surely not hard to find another word to use - there are plenty - which doesn't have the same connotation.

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Meh

Re: They should have used "Unbeatable*"

@ Mr Long 1...

Actually it's very, very offensive. I've had to rap my kids' knuckles figuratively for phrases such as 'so-and-so is raping our line again with Maple / WoW / SWTOR patches, Dad'.

It's gererally considered a taboo word amongst the well-mannered (I honestly don't care if that sounds pompous), and it has nothing to do with the relative 'severity' of one crime over another. This should be self-evident.

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Re: They should have used "Unbeatable*"

I can certainly see why some folks would see the term "rape" offensive, but then "frape" is becoming common parlance which is effectively a shortening of "facebook rape".

Personally, I thought it was a bit of an odd usage of the word in the context, but not out of line.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rape

Do you have a problem with talking about the plant as well and its derivative products such as rapeseed oil?

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For a moment, I thought that said BT, Unbearable

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That's just the start of it.

As an infinity subscriber, those adverts really do annoy me. They continually wank on about how good the wireless coverage is. It's bollox. I'll admit my original type A Home Hub 3 had a very good signal, the only problem is that after a few hours of use it would suddenly stop routing IP packets via the wireless. The AP would still show, but anything sent via it would just vanish. Reboot required.

After a friend went to infinity and didn't wish to use his newer type B Home Hub 3 (he has a Fritzbox) he gave it to me... Hurrah, no more wireless lock ups, but the signal strength is noticeably worse. So much so that I've deployed my old ADSL vigor to act as an 802.11G access point and disabled the one of the Home Hub 3.

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Not only is it really annoying

that they have to invent snazzy-sounding names for standard well-established products like a router, which confuse both me and nontech users alike;

but every "HomeHub" I have had the misfortune to come across has been flaky as hell.

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FAIL

All part of the plan...

It's a simple marketing ploy which has, regrettably, worked in this instance.

1) Tedious broadcast media campaign containing LIES carefully designed to needle and irk the competition.

2) Competition complains to ombudsman about said LIES.

3) Ombudsman upholds complaints, insists that already finished campaign not be broadcast again.

4) Press reports of upheld complaint ensure that twenty times more people get to hear about the product than the original campaign would have reached.

This is why the ombudsman is circumspect about upholding complaints. Because they could very well be part of the original intention to court controversy and gain publicity as a result.

Previous commentators are quite correct that the ASA needs teeth.

Frankly the "punishment" they are able to administer has the same effect as being caressed by a natural yoghurt, to paraphrase Vince Noir.

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Go

And what about BTs claim in their adverts that theirs is "the most reliable wifi in the country"?

Apart from the fact half the connection relies on the client device so they have zero influence on it, there is no way they can claim their wifi is more reliable than anyone else given the multitude of models and manufacturers of wireless kit in the marketplace.

They really need to substantiate their claims or shut up.

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Reliability

Forget wifi, as correctly pointed out this is dependent on the kit used which BT are only nominally responsible for or in my case (Infinity user with another ISP) totally nothing to do with them.

The reliability of their so called premium network is shocking. I have seen the message from BT Wholesale on my browser saying the web is down a few times too often. I went with another ISP to avoid this problem. Instead I find that both the ISP and I are powerless to stop BT fucking things up. At least I have someone else with a direct line in to help me whinge, but it does not compensate for their unreliability and shows that infinity customers have no real choice...

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Holmes

I Don't Believe It!

What, an ISP not being truthful about the speed and quality of it's products?

What is the world coming to?

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Anonymous Coward

I'd like to see something along the lines of

"When 100% of the UK, including Hull and the Highlands and Islands, can get 8M if they want it, then you can roll out higher and higher in your favourite areas."

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Virgin can't really complain

This download race is a lesson in spin. Virgin say they have the best broadband and Ofcom agrees, but avoid the entire issue of upload speed. It is not mentioned anywhere on their "Hooray, were the fastest" page. Nor is it shown in the T&C's.

Worse still, even their call centre staff can't tell you the upload speed you are going to get. They just tried to upsell me to 60Mbit, but when I asked what the upload speed was, the operative didn't have a clue. She said the information "was not coming up on her screen".

The only place it is mentioned is their traffic page in a confusing table listing upload speeds. There are two speeds listed. A 10:1 figure for each package and a 2nd default lower one. Again, the call centre person didn't know what the 10:1 option was or how to get it. I suspect you only get offered the 10:1 upload speed if you are tech savvy enough to cajole them for it. It is certainly not the speed you get by default, even on the expensive high bitrate packages.

Upload speed is increasingly important in this hyped cloud era. Yet even the 60Mb Virgin offering is only 3Mbit upload as standard. That's only 384KBytes/sec. Quite how you are supposed to put you life in the cloud at those kind of speeds is beyond me. It would take weeks just to upload all my 18MP photos.

What is particularly annoying is Virgin is fibre, not copper ADSL, so these pathetic upload speeds are achieved through artificial throttling.

So, if upload is important to you then BT Infinity 2 may give you a much better overall experience. Trouble is their TV offering is a joke and Virgin know it. I threatened to switch to BT Infinity and was told that if I dropped my Virgin broadband and phone, then my TV package would double in price taking the combined cost to 10p greater than I'm paying now. They have this all worked out and had all the numbers to hand.

Let's also not forget that Virgin's "We're doubling everyone's broadband, aren't we great" campaign is masking a 10% hike in every customers package price. I just don't need 60Mbit, and I also certainly don't need a 3rd price hike in a year (hence my call to them). By the way, they have obviously been trained up to handle complaints about the price hike and are clearly under strict instructions not to haggle as they normally do. Bottom line was "fine, go with BT then".

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FAIL

Yet again the UK is behind on customer service

I lived in India for a couple of years and tried to get an 8mb connection. The ISP would not sell it to me as I was too far away to get that speed. Even when I told them that I would be happy with 6mb, they said I could only buy the 4mb package (next one down) as otherwise I could report them afterwards!

Note that I almost always got the full 4mb when I ran speed tests.

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Re: Yet again the UK is behind on customer service

With respect, all our customer service departments are located IN India, so I am totally not surprised they have better customer service over there...

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