back to article Plusnet's 'Everyone's a winner' claim is a plus-sized whopper

BT-owned ISP Plusnet misled would-be customers by boasting in a telly ad that its broadband service was available to "everyone", says a watchdog. And the blurb wrongly gave the impression that all of its products were part of a half-price sale. The Advertising Standards Authority ruled the Plusnet ad in question, which stated …


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  1. Gordon Pryra

    Child Pr0n

    isn't this the company whose advert had two 12 year old girls (one covered in white paint) gyrating suggestively at the back of a cheap stage?

    And a bloke with a motorbike helmet

    And a fat bloke pretending to be "average guy"

    Don't trust anyone pretending to be your mate like that, especially those who need to put prepubescent girls in their adverts

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Child Pr0n

      Are you referring to women holding the umbrellas in this one:

      Because if your first thought when you look at the models holding the umbrella is "prepubescent", then I'm afraid there's something wrong with you, not the advert.

      And, also, I'd be more concerned over the "cheerleader" one, but only because I've always thought the US tradition of cheerleaders was a bit morally suspect ("Let's get lots of only the prettiest girls from school, dress them in skimpy outfits that show lots of leg, have them perform lots of routines that involve them showing how flexible they are and have them gyrate to enthuse the crowds for the boys playing football (because, obviously, boys play football and girls are objects to look at), and make them think it's a viable career choice and a major part of going through school", and that sometimes applied to prepubescent girls too)

    2. LarsG


      As with the term 'unlimited' to the average man in the street it means exactly that. Un known to everyone else the ISP's have many definitions of unlimited broadband....

      Unlimited (but only for a short period)

      Unlimited (but only if you don't go over your limit)

      Unlimited (fair usage, but we don't define what fair usage is)

      Unlimited (until we change our minds)

      Unlimited (is really a finite number but we will let you know)

      Unlimited (do you honestly believe there is such a thing)

      Unlimited (we tied you into a contract so fcuk you when we change the rules)

      Unlimited ( it was in the small print, page 1323, section 895 subsection 55, para 69, appendix 3 and if you failed to read it, well it's tough cheese)

      So the moral of this is ISP's lie through their teeth, and will say anything to entice you in because that is the way they do business.

      Oh have you heard the one about their promised 8GB broadband speed?

  2. Joseph Bryant


    What's wrong with "All broadband's half off"? It's a contraction of "All broadband is half off", which seems fine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Half off

      and half on.

      Much like their actual service.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Half off

        I have to pitch in for this comment since it is my opinion that unstable broadband is not Plusnet's fault but the blame is with 3rd parties or perhaps with the house telephone wiring. (your experience may vary)

        I say that because I've been with PlusNet/Force9 since 1997 and I rarely have any kind of issue. That's at 5 addresses, my place of work and all the friends/family I have got on to Plusnet through their recommendation scheme.

        I don't work for them but am a very satisfied customer.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: [sic]

      Agreed (although somebody who does not understand grammar, or who, more probably, has misinterpretted the original sentence, has down-voted you I see).

      The problem now is that if I have to quote this article I would need to say "All broadbad's [sic] [sic] half off" :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: [sic]

        Lol - and don't forget to add an extra [sic] for my "broadbad" typo if you quote my comment :-)

      2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Re: [sic]

        I've added a footnote for the confused.


        1. Matthew 3

          Re: [sic]

          Shouldn't the footnote be 'sic erat scriptum'?

          (Not trying to be arsey - I just googled your Latin quote as I'd only ever seen it as [sic] before. That's what I was offered as a correction)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OT, what's with the sics then?

    Could anyone shed some light, 'cause I was under the impression that the "sic" implies a feeling of disgust (shock, horror, remove as appropriate) at such blatant misuse of English, while in the context the "broadband's" = "broadband is", isn't' it, sowhattheproblem? Or was the shock-horror displayed at the disagreement of plurarl and singular, i.e. "all" v. "is"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OT, what's with the sics then?

      Short for sic erat scriptum which is Latin for "thus was it written".

      It's used to indicate that it's an exact quote, complete with any bad grammar or spelling mistakes. It's nothing to do with nausea...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: OT, what's with the sics then?

        ...which, didn't actually answer your question.

        The plural of 'broadband' is still 'broadband'; it's apostrophe abuse.

        1. Richard 22
          Thumb Down

          Re: OT, what's with the sics then?

          They're not trying to pluralise the word. In this case "broadband's" is a contraction of "broadband is", and thus the apostrophe seems justified, and the [sic] does not.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: OT, what's with the sics then?

            Again, why thy down vote?

            Scenario 1 - single instance - "I have lost my internet connection because my broadband is down." = "I have lost my internet connection because my broadband's down". No apostrophe abuse.

            Scenario 2 - plural instance - there is a major outage affecting all BT broadband services, which is relayed to managers as "Broadband is down" (and not "Broadband ARE down" or even "Broadbands are down"). This contracts to "Broadband's down". No apostrophe abuse here either.

            How would suggest that BT advertised a 50% price drop in TV services? "TV are down in price?" - nope "TVs (no apostrophe) are down in price" nope, "TV is down in price" - yep, and hence also "TV's down in price" - it's not rocket science.

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              1. edge_e

                Re: TVs

                Just to confuse things.

                The TV's price is down.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Let's ensure we don't get confused

              Apostrophes are never used to form plurals.

              So your example of TV services is correct, as this example is an omission that stands in for "the TV service is down in price".

              However if it were television sets being talked about, the correct form would be as follows:

              "the TVs are down in price".


              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Let's ensure we don't get confused

                Agreed - but I wasn't talking about TV sets, I was referring to the service - in the same way that the original article is about broadband service.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Let's ensure we don't get confused

                AC wrote "Apostrophes are never used to form plurals".

                This is not entirely true. For example, "Mississippi contains four i's" is acceptable.

                If you disagree, take it up with Lynne Truss.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: OT, what's with the sics then?

            > They're not trying to pluralise the word. In this case "broadband's" is a contraction of "broadband is", and thus the apostrophe seems justified, and the [sic] does not.

            D'oh. I stand both corrected and chastened.

            I suppose one could argue the [sic] is still justified because there are less ambiguous ways of expressing that sentence.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: OT, what's with the sics then?

        Modern education - what is it coming to ... n.s. do they not understand basic latin, s.e. they can't spell sick.

        BTW, n.s. .... s.e. is an abbreviation that confused someone who borrowed my maths notes at university - is short for not solum .... sed etiam, or in English, not only ... but also.

    2. TrixyB

      Re: OT, what's with the sics then?

      I thought it meant "Spelling is correct" [SIC] to prove that you are aware what you are quoting.

  4. Jelliphiish

    'run like a separate company'

    oh, like Openreach are a separate company then.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Tail Wagging The Dog

    What kind of nitpicking petty minded tosspots make these complaints?

    I'm no lover of advertising, but I remember seeing these ads and also clearly remember seeing the £13.99 line rental requirement. To me and to "everybody" else who lives in the real world, it was and should have been obvious that they weren't saying everything was half price. If I could see this and put two and two together then so could anyone else, or indeed "everybody".

    So the use of "everybody" has to be taken literally? Anyone with any common sense would realise that they mean everybody who joins Plusnet. Not everybody on the whole sodding planet.

    Misleading ads need to dealt with, but at least apply some common sense before taking people to task.

    I am not a Plusnet or a BT customer.

    1. Blackbird74

      Re: Tail Wagging The Dog

      "What kind of nitpicking petty minded tosspots make these complaints?"

      Probably some nitpicking petty minded tosspot who just happens to work for a competitor.

  6. Alexis Vallance


    ASA politely asks company not to run advert again in its current form 6 months after the event, despite the company having no intention of running it again anyway

    As usual.

    1. Tim Brown 1

      Re: Pointless.

      Agree,. and futher actually provides the company with FREE advertising since media outlets (like The Register...) write up the story.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Words at the bottom of the screen

    They don't even have to be legible - their mere presence indicates that the words spoken are probably a lie. I've yet to see small print that says "actually the deal is much much better than the bloke said".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not good enough

    They should be forced to rerun the advert at exactly the same time slots, for the same duration on the same channels (and pay again obviously), but this time the advert should have a large flashing "BOLLOCKS ALERT" in the middle of the screen with an accompanying Klaxon noise.

  9. Spoonsinger

    I remember the days....

    when Plusnet weren't barrow boys. Ho hum.....

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Line rental, our favourite bugbear

    "You can have good value broadband, if you bend over and get shafted by paying double for another service which is no different to our competitors'"

  11. David Lewis 2

    Double Standards?

    So the ASA takes issue when "Everyone" doesn't mean everyone but has no problem when "Unlimited" doesn't actually mean ... well, unlimited?

  12. Fihart

    Deliberately misleading nonsense.

    Seems that these days anyone offering a product which is moderately complex do their best to make it more so. Then they employ ad campaigns that appear to make it simple again -- best/worst example, the Orange campaign involving animals (Dolphin ? Raccoon ?) to represent different packages.

    As an adman I have to say this goes against my instinct to try to communicate actually complex products (cars, hifi) in a comprehensible manner, though I refused to work on life insurance business because I found it so boring and confusing that I felt incapable of doing good work.

    As revealed by the fact that PlusNet is just BT in drag, with the exception of Virgin, ALL these brands are selling essentially one product -- internet over BT's copper wires (whether via Fibre to the Cabinet or not).

    Even Virgin sells this where it has no infrastructure. Actually, Virgin seems to have "lost" some of the cabling put in originally by the firms it took over -- in our street, every building has a small hatch in the pavement which accesses cable below, but Virgin resolutely deny that we can have fibre-optic internet.

    As per energy tariffs, we need legislation to force internet and cellphone service suppliers (often the same companies) to clarify and simplify their offerings with no "free" phones or "half price for 6 months" or "unlimited" that isn't.

    1. An0n C0w4rd

      Re: Deliberately misleading nonsense.

      As revealed by the fact that PlusNet is just BT in drag, with the exception of Virgin, ALL these brands are selling essentially one product -- internet over BT's copper wires (whether via Fibre to the Cabinet or not).

      Sort of. OK, the "last mile" is the same, but unbundling comes into the picture with most large competitors so the DSLAM is theirs. The backhaul - no idea. Could be someone different, or could be across the BT network (so why have their own DSLAM?)

      You're also ignoring the services on top of the broadband, e.g. static IPs, and a tech support that isn't based in India.

      Plusnet just happens to be BT more than most of the competition.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: Deliberately misleading nonsense.

        Yep, I am with PlusNet because one of their USPs is that you get through to a Yorkshire call centre.

        For anyone used to Virgin Media's "customer service"/"tech support" it is chalk and cheese!

        1. Return To Sender

          Re: Deliberately misleading nonsense.

          "... you get through to a Yorkshire call centre"

          Yes, granted, but it doesn't mean your problem actually gets fixed. As it happens I have both VM and PlusNet (work reasons, also the static IP from PN). The one and only time I had a real problem with PN - total disconnection - it took them the thick end of six days to work out they'd cocked up a configuration. Oh, and they actually closed the original call I made after two days, something I only found out two days after that when I called to find out why I hadn't heard anything.

          Bit of a shame really, 'cos otherwise I've been pleased with PN for years (since before they got borg'd by BT), it's just when it really mattered they screwed up. At least you *expect* VM to be a bunch of chocolate teapots, although I have to say the actual engineers that get sent out have been pretty damn good.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Thumb Up

            Re: Deliberately misleading nonsense.

            @Return to Sender

            VMs engineers do seem to know their stuff, the difficulty I found lay in the disconnect in communication between front line tech support in the offshore call centres, and the guys on the ground in the vans.


            I'm west of the pennines, heck I'm west of the island of Great Britain. Still appreciate a friendly Yorkshire voice.

        2. NogginTheNog

          Re: Deliberately misleading nonsense.

          "Yep, I am with PlusNet because one of their USPs is that you get through to a Yorkshire call centre."

          For anyone west of the Pennines that's definitely NOT a selling point!

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Deliberately misleading nonsense.

          Scriptreading phone simians are scriptreading phone simians, no matter what accent they might have,

          Granted, these phonemonkeysy are a bit more understandable/less frustrating than the ones from Bangalore/Makati, but they can't get things fixed any faster than those phonemonkeys.

  13. vonRat

    Do people watch adverts then?

    I prefer a more accurate source of information such as the Daily Wail.

  14. Blitheringeejit

    Recommended reading ...

    Plusnet are in this week's list, but if you go back a month or two, you'll find complaints upheld against BT, EE/T-Mobile, TalkTalk, Virgin Media ... so while I favour the Bollocks Alert and klaxon solution (AC 12:04), I would apply it to all ISP and telco ads automatically, thereby saving a lot of time and green ink.

    I'm not remotely surprised by these judgments - but I was surprised to find a complaint upheld against Gallaher, the company who sell tobacco and are therefore not allowed to advertise:

    But I think this is my favourite:

  15. Jess--

    I fell out with plusnet many years ago on dialup when they launched surftime - anytime

    sold as a cost free dialup connection (cost free = no call charges) 24-7

    they threw me off after a week because I had been connected almost 24/7

    I moved from them to eclipse who offered the same package (at a slightly higher cost) and they gave me assurances that me being on 24/7 was no issue whatsoever

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bash away, but...

    ...the story is about marketing, not service standards.

    Been with them nearly ten years, three different addresses, and got nothing but consistently good service.

    Try mentioning 'Linux' or 'BSD' on the phone to Virgin, BT themselves, TalkTalk, or any or any other mass purveyor of support-in-a-can misery. That sound you hear is either flies swarming in and out of a gormless, open gob or the phone being scraped around until it lands back on the receiver.

    Never been told by Plusnet I 'need to install proper Windows' to have a internet connection (NTL to a relative) or 'it won't work because you have too many icons on your desktop' (NTL to relative)...

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