Another week, and another adjudication by the ASA on a broadband advert. This time it sees Bulldog facing the Authority over issues such as the fact that the headline price was £9.75, but people were required to take a Bulldog telephone line for £10.50 a month, and others raised a complaint about the coverage of the service. The full adjudication can be read on www.asa.org.uk.
The original print advert listed the price of the up to 8 Meg broadband service, and had an asterisk leading the reader to the requirement for a Bulldog telephone line at £10.50 per month. The ASA has upheld the complaint that the need for the telephone line rental was not prominent enough, particularly as the Bulldog service was a fully unbundled one, meaning that consumers had no other option but to take the £10.50 line rental if they wanted the £9.75 broadband service. While as the ASA notes broadband often requires a telephone line, it is certainly not the case for all broadband lines, e.g. wireless broadband and cable modem services. As the variety of broadband options in the UK grows, clear advertising will be crucial.
On the second issue, which members of the public had complained about, which was being told they could not get the up to 8Mbps service, the ASA has not upheld the complaint. The ASA is happy that with 32% of UK households covered by Bulldog, combined with the wording 'subject to local availability' clauses and that potential customers calling the number listed are told whether they are in the area for unbundled services, that it was clear the service was not available to all.
We feel it is worth pointing out, that at present Bulldog is the only provider selling a service to the consumer which uses a fully unbundled line, i.e. where the DSL provider also runs the telephone service. Other providers like Be and UK Online are using the shared unbundled line option, whereby a consumers telephone line is left unaltered by having a LLU based broadband service put on it.
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