back to article Virgin Media's 'bye-bye to buffering' beardy Bolt boast BANNED

Virgin Media is banned from suggesting that its broadband is fast enough to spare punters from "buffering" delays online after rival BT complained. The national telco successfully cried foul to the UK advertising watchdog over a telly commercial featuring Olympic track champion Usain Bolt pretending to be Virgin Group's beardy …


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  1. jai


    awesome work on the subtitle alliteration! top job!! it's a dying art but always a pleasure to it done well

    1. BigAndos

      Re: stunning

      Awesomely alliterated article about awful advertising!

  2. davefb
    Thumb Down

    Dear BT and Sky

    instead of moaning at VM about their adverts and buffering. Perhaps you could spend some time sorting your networks out such that VM are no longer able to say "four times faster than average".

    Recently got 30mb upgrade from 10mb on virgin media (free?). BT STILL say they can't do Infinity even though they have some cabinets in my area and claim the exchange is 'upgraded', so maximum predicted is about 10mb on 'upto20'. Which means, even on the 'slowed down' , its 50% faster than I might get if I signed up for BT/sky.

    Oh yeah, that's probably why the just complain about the ads to the ASA..

    Mind you, VM is right, sky anytime+ is now working a treat, no buffering like there was at 10mb :)

    1. Rob

      Re: Dear BT and Sky

      Of course that's all well and good if you live in a cabled area. Where as BT is trying to roll out those speeds to as much of the country as it can financially justify, I don't see Virgin upping the amount of cabled areas they have.

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: Dear BT and Sky

        I don't see Virgin upping the amount of cabled areas they have.

        Nope, all I see is them bitching that people are getting subsidies for roll-out and they're not. Of course, if they were willing to bite the bullet and share access to their ducts (as is required of anyone getting the subsidy) they'd be just as capable of gaining access to that particular trough as the competition are.

        We live in a Virgin area, not that it's had any kind of investment since the Telewest days. We've actually still (technically) got a ban on rooftop aerials as Telewest cabled a communal link into each house. The fact that it's broken somewhere along the line (a few years ago now too) and Virgin refuse to repair it doesn't affect the ban, but definitely affects my choice about which providers I'd even consider.

        I know people who are perfectly happy with Virgin (at least until they have to use the customer service dept), just as I know people who are perfectly happy with the competition. I guess the answer is to go for what's best in your area. Not good news for Virgin though as they don't even seem to want to expand into newly built area's at the moment, at some point they're going to need to invest otherwise the number of 'virgin' areas as a percentage of the UK is going to continue to shrink

        1. Zack Mollusc

          Re: Dear BT and Sky

          Heh, we are still using the old Telewest supplied Pace STB and Surfboard cable modem.

          But at least the new, darker, Richard Branston has increased upstream speeds from 50kbytes/second to 100kbytes/second.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Richard Branston"

            He doesn't make pickle, you know.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dear BT and Sky

        That's the really sad thing about BT and Virgin. BT seem to be more interested in converting Virgin customers to BT than providing existing BT customers with a better service.

        Perhaps they are obsessed with subscriber counts rather than revenue? or they're trying to stop Virgin from growing?

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  3. Jason 24

    All that really matters...

    Is this last line;

    "They said the ad was no longer running and would not be aired again"

    What's the fecking point if the adverts have already run and even finished? Useless bastards yet again.

    1. Amorous Cowherder

      Re: All that really matters...

      Exactly what I was thinking, the ad has achieved it's goal!

      That's the way it works these days, company X pushes out an ad that pushes it's claims a little too far, they get told off and the hoo-ha surrounding the banning of the ad generates far more publicity than the original ad!

      Well done ASA, I bet old Beardy is really proud of how he manipulated you mugs!

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: All that really matters...

      In a sane world, the point would be that Virgin are now required to launch a second campaign to correct any mis-apprehensions created by the first. Sadly, the ASA don't have the powers of a judge.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: All that really matters...

        "In a sane world, the point would be that Virgin are now required to launch a second campaign to correct any mis-apprehensions created by the first. Sadly, the ASA don't have the powers of a judge."

        Fortunately, BT and Sky are getting their back by using equally mis-leading advertising so VM can complain back at them. I think the current Sky advert (or is BT?) is pushing on-line video/TV and shows the whole family watching different things on different devices at the same time.

        But if you look quickly and squint just right you see some text in the bottom right of the screen saying there's a 4GB data cap at the displayed price point. I reckon that means your data cap is going to kick in on billing day, and that's the whole familys "internet experience" up the creek for the rest of the month.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All that really matters...

      what it means - though it won't get shouted at you from hoardings - is

      Vrigin Media were dishonest/lied/economical with the truth/tried it on/pulled a fast one/phrase of your choice

      and were found out.

  4. Irongut

    So now what about the ads from BT claiming you can get super fast fibre from BT when only a fraction of the population can?

    Not that I'd want to get my internet from BT but it pisses me off every time I see the smug supposed geek in the adverts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm more bothered about their Wifi claims given that the Wifi on the HH3 is shit and unreliable. Hell, I've even done some (proper) testing in multiple locations using different kit, sending them results alongside possible causes of the issue. Does anything get done? No. The recommendation is to buy a new router (which I'd have done anyway, but am determined to stand on Principle given their heavy advertising of the great Wifi)

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Now if VM could explain why the 'Fantastic' & 'Amazing' & '3 billion percent better than the competition' doubling of speed that they spent large amounts of money telling me about in January 2012 ('Coming SOON!') has been delayed until August 2013 then I'd be very interested. It's almost like it was a con but that would be a nasty insinuation and possibly libelous as would SCAM and RIPOFF and SNAKEOIL!

    1. DJ Smiley

      All of those claims you just made involve you buying something you don't already pay for.

      If you were going to quit, you still can. They didn't sign you up into a new contract with a promise of faster speeds, and if you did sign a new contract because they promised you faster speeds for free, you've learnt a valuable life lesson.

      1. BXL

        Yup. I've ordered BT Infinity 24 hours after I've found out that the "doubling" has been delayed by a minimum of 6 months. I'll be getting a slower service from BT but it'll be £10 a month cheaper and BT have not lied to me yet.

        1. chr0m4t1c

          >and BT have not lied to me yet.

          I think you'll find that'll be 'cos you've only just ordered the service, give them a chance.

  6. dotdavid

    "It's an expensive mistake for VM"

    Why? Did the ASA fine them? I thought they were just slapped on the wrist and told not to show an advert that had already run its' course and so was no longer being shown anyway. Apart from the Virgin reps' time I can't see where the expenses are.

    1. JohnG

      Re: "It's an expensive mistake for VM"

      " Apart from the Virgin reps' time I can't see where the expenses are."

      A big lunch for the ASA chaps?

    2. Rawr.

      Re: "It's an expensive mistake for VM"

      All companies who have an ad banned say that it had expired anyway. Fools people into thinking they didn't really get snubbed by the ASA, when they really did.

  7. banjomike

    You STILL get Traffic Management on 30Mbps

    Quote their sales page

    "Downloads without hidden charges: Acceptable Use Policy applies. Traffic Management operates from 4pm to 9pm and 10am to 3pm, to ensure a consistent user experience."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You STILL get Traffic Management on 30Mbps

      Yeah, but if all your using for is watching video, you won't hit that cap. Even if you do, things like iPlayer remain unaffected IIRC.

      Its a moot point though, if you lived in a student infested VM area... my mate was doing better by popping up a wifi hotspot with his jailbroken iPhone (I only mention it was an iPhone cos its predecessor was on that truly unlimited Orange tariff that is no longer available, and he won't give it up)

    2. davefb

      Re: You STILL get Traffic Management on 30Mbps


      it drops all the way to 15mb... After downloading 7gb.. (3.5 depending on which time ).

      So basically still 'flipping fast'

      1. John70

        Re: You STILL get Traffic Management on 30Mbps

        I'm on Virgin Media (still on 20Mb, waiting for 60Mb upgrade to happen) and when I downloaded latest Mist of Pandaria beta patch which was 20Gb I was getting 2.4Mb/s then within 30 mins this dropped down to 520Kb/s (that's megabytes and kilobytes not bits as displayed on MoP download).

        That's how good VM's traffic shaping is. Over 80% reduction. Took bloody hours to download because of that.

        1. Nick Thompson

          Re: You STILL get Traffic Management on 30Mbps

          That sucks. I downloaded well over 100Gb from steam at about 75MBit/s one evening last week over BT infinity. No reductions in speed at any time.

          For the first time in my life I actually have a decent internet connection, how long before they oversubscribe it?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You STILL get Traffic Management on 30Mbps

            Get your bits and bytes right FFS....

            KB = Kilobytes

            MB = Megabytes

            Kb = Kilobits

            Mb = Megabits

            No good trying to put up an argument if you don't understand the differences.

            100Gb & 75MBits/s < What's that? You downloaded 100Gigabits at 75Megabytes a second??

            "Get the full 24MBit" < No, I assume you get 24Mb/s, which equates (VERY loosley) to 2.4MB/s

            "20Gb I was getting 2.4Mb/s" < I think you mean you were getting 2.4MB/s (on a 20Mb/s link)

      2. Marty

        Re: You STILL get Traffic Management on 30Mbps

        "it drops all the way to 15mb... After downloading 7gb.. (3.5 depending on which time ).

        So basically still 'flipping fast'"

        you are kidding right?

        I am on BE, Get the full 24MBit, constantly, day and night, no traffic management, no traffic matter how much I have downloaded....

        7GB LOL, I have downloaded more than that in one afternoon downloading my backups from on-line storage services!!

  8. Dale 3

    £52.6m on marketing costs

    Most of that went on mailshots through my door.

    1. Jediben

      Re: £52.6m on marketing costs

      And 'I bet The Occupier' didn't even have the decency to come around and collect it either!

      1. Jediben

        Re: £52.6m on marketing costs

        Hey Mr Apostrophe, how the hell did you get over there?

    2. Marty

      Re: £52.6m on marketing costs

      and my door too..... and we are not in a cable area !!

      1. Bruno Girin

        Re: £52.6m on marketing costs

        Same here. I called them to complain and got nowhere. I receive more mail through my door from VM addressed to "The Occupier" than I receive mail from my bank and all my utilities combined.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    was it actualling bufferring? or do they mean caching.

    I always thought that when you play a video and it says 'bufferring' it is actually 'caching'. Bufferring is when you can't play the content as fast as it is streamed and so it needs to be bufferred somewhere until you catch up - i.e. buffers protect you from something too fast to handle - so the need for buffers indicates a good network, not a bad one.

    Perhaps my understanding is wrong - feel free to correct me (and I know you will :-)

    1. Richard 81

      Re: was it actualling bufferring? or do they mean caching.

      Not sure why you were down voted, even if your understanding is wrong.

      ...maybe someone took exception to you failing to close your brackets.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Re: was it actualling bufferring? or do they mean caching.

      A cache speeds something up by retaining the most frequently used information in memory or unchanged information in memory.

      I don't therefore think it is a cache, but a buffer to cope with fluctuations in transfer speed to stop starvation of data.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: was it actualling bufferring? or do they mean caching.

        They are all buffers, we also have "pre-buffering" to load up on slow incoming data before playing it back fast and the dreaded "buffer underrun" when burning a CD, whereby the buffer holding data to be written awkwardly was found to be empty when the laser hit the virgin plastic area, resulting in a coaster.

        > the need for buffers indicates a good network, not a bad one.

        It most certainly indicates a shunt from a data sink to a data source where both are working at differing rates and someone wants to temporarily cover up this ugly truth.

  10. peterkin

    Legitimate buffery?

  11. Spider

    in the interests of fairness

    I was happy with plusnet, but headed to VM because I wasn't prepared to wait decades for the fibre upgrade to occur and let me have more than 2meg broadband.

    whilst I'm aware many punters have problems, installation was a doddle, even phoned and came early, fitted no fuss and last speed test I carried out got me 47.5 on a 50meg contract...we've had 2 outages in 18 months for about a hour or two each. would love to join in the moaning against a big corp, but so far so good...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tenant advert?

    That specifically states that you don't get buffering stutters with their service...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tenant advert?

      I guess someone has to formally complain. By the time the ASA act, the ad run will be over and all they will get is another mild slap on the wrists...

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Tenant advert?

      I've not seen that one for a while but doesn't that one relate to the iplayer/4OD/etc services built-in to the STB TV service rather than the broadband everyone else has to use to get those services?

      Please, correct me if I'm wrong. I've got a VM V+ PVR so rarely see adverts at less that 32x speed :-)

  13. Annihilator


    Of course it was misleading, Usain Bolt claimed he was Richard Branson, but he really wasn't. I spotted that one a mile away.

  14. jonathan keith


    "It's an expensive mistake for VM, which spent a whopping £52.6m on marketing costs in its first quarter."

    It would have been an expensive mistake if they'd been fined that much money for running a 'misleading' ad (i.e. lying through their teeth) but they weren't.

    If, however, they had been, perhaps these lying liars and all their lying friends would stop lying to us.

    Looking forward to the future of advertising: "buy our cake, it's cake".

    1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

      Re: Balls.

      "Lying through their teeth" is a bit harsh, the cable broadband service is genuinely very good.

      Easily the best ISP I've had, I'm normally into rabid forum wars after the first month or two and I'm two years in.

      Blessed relief after a seriously aggro minus-net experience a while back.

    2. Anonymous Coward 15

      Re: Balls.

      It's a lie.

  15. TRT Silver badge

    I'm more concerned...

    that they said that my area would be doubled in July, and last week the page that shows when you can expect to be uprated changed to show we would have to wait until October now!

    1. twelvebore

      Re: I'm more concerned...

      So phone them up.

      I downgraded from the 20Mb "old-L" package to a 30Mb "new-M" package, they were round to fit my new modem within a day or two. This despite my area being marked as due for the doubling upgrade months from now.

      My broadband bill is now £10 cheaper than it was, my broadband is faster, the caps are less silly, the new modem was free.

  16. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Expensive mistake? What?

    "They said the ad was no longer running"

    So what did it cost them? They can't do something that were not going to do anyway? Oh dear that's going to hurt!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    YouTube works on Virgin now, but its performance has been pretty bad over the past few years. Kept pausing and buffering even though it worked fine on the slower ADSL connection I used to have.

  18. wobbly1

    Fascinating that BT made the complaint , their latest advert suggests that 10 or more people can be connected to their WiFi router simultaneously, and stream video. I count 9-11 Spanish bints entering the flat . The implication being the WiF router could get around the limitations of WiFi bandwidth... a similar claim to VM's claim to ending buffering by use of their service. Might the ASA (Absolutely Supine Authority) employ some pointy heads to review ISP adverts?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Claimed speed doubled, actual speed useless

    We've been doubled to 60meg but the service is still around 1/10 that after 3pm ish. In the evening the connection is so slow it can't even play iPlayer content, something my 3G mobile hotspot manages to do fine.

  20. pap

    You gotta love the "power" of the ASA

    They're able to take Virgin to task on broadband speeds. Big whoop.

    Last year, during the AV referendum, they had no power over any of the adverts. Thus, it came to pass that British turkeys vote for Christmas because they believed that AV would result in dead babies or soldiers!

  21. RonWheeler

    My experience

    Moved from 'business' ADSL to Virgin 18 months back. ADSL was always a bit hit and miss with big downloads, when there wasn't a line fault that is. And we're under a mile from the BT exchange.. While sometimes not perfect, streaming video is massively better with Virgin. What is craxy is that Virgins V box is less reliable for video that their broadband.. Your mileage may vary.

    1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Re: My experience

      That would be to make sure to take the TV package, not just the broadband alone.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You are telling us that Virgin lied - and IN AN ADVERTISEMENT???

    What is the world coming to? And what makes you think this deserves to be classified as news??

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