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Tiscali adverts up before the ASA
Wednesday 03 December 2008 10:53:17 by Andrew Ferguson

Tiscali has a number of adverts mentioned in this weeks Advertising Standards Authority rulings. The first relates to an advert on TV which some may remember where a man returned home and said to his wife "I've just got us Tiscali's best ever broadband offer...", the advert had several others variations on the same theme.

This first advert received eight complaints from viewers with people feeling that the up to 8Mbps claims were misleading as most customers would not achieve those speeds. The ASA has not upheld the complaints, and the adjudication goes into depth as to why. Interestingly the percentages of people getting various connection speeds (not through-put speed) appear in line with some old data from 2006.

The second adjudication covers two press adverts and one Internet promotion for Tiscali broadband. In this case TalkTalk and a member of the public made the following complaints.

  1. The claim of free line rental was misleading, because of the one-off set-up fee
  2. The claim of unlimited UK phone calls was misleading
  3. The claim of up to 8Mbps broadband was misleading
  4. The press adverts did not make it clear the package was only available to people in certain areas of the UK
  5. The Internet promotion did not make clear that the headline price of £7.99 was only available for three months.

The first two complaints were not upheld, the third was which seems slightly at odds with the previous adjudication and the final two complaints both were upheld.

It seems most likely that the speed complaint was upheld due to the lack of prominence of the qualifying text, which Tiscali has already increased in press adverts that it now runs. Tiscali apparently submitted some independent tests for the period August 2007 to September 2008 comparing the provider with 6 other providers, and Tiscali was second best with an average connection speed of 6.5Mbps, and the later set gave an average connection speed of 6Mbps. Unfortunately the ASA noted that the tests were carried out on one line or proportionally small number of lines and in a different set of bulk data the ASA noted no significant difference in connection speed between LLU and non-LLU lines - which technically sounds sensible since Tiscali largely still uses rate adaptive ADSL for its LLU the same as BT Wholesale (non-LLU).

The ruling reveals that the Tiscali LLU footprint was 52% when the ruling was compiled (58% on their website today), and those outside the LLU areas are offered a 25% discount on their phone line rental rather than free line rental, but it is a bit of work to find this out when browsing the products. The final complaint was upheld because the ASA felt people would think it meant the package prices started at £7.99 and not that it was a limited time promotion.

With the plethora of speed test awards handed out, this ruling shows one significant danger that can happen with ADSL and ADSL2+ products. If the population sample is not representative of the spread of line speeds across the country it can give a false impression, and with awards being increasingly used in advertising to score points over other providers one has to be cautious. One does wonder if in reality to some extent consumers don't care what speed their broadband connection connects at, what they notice and worry about is the actual speed when viewing various websites. For example, it is entirely possible for someone with provider A to have a connection connect at 5Mbps, but due to congestion, packet loss etc not be able to view a 1Mbps video stream, but someone with provider B connecting at only 2Mbps to be able to view the stream without any jitter.

Comments

Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
it just shows how incompetent the ASA are, they should look at 'TYPICAL' speeds and use that to set what is allowed as a up to speed, unless tiscali are rejecting long lines then typical speeds will be nearer 4-5mbit. then of course we have to include speeds give congestion and traffic shaping, how do we know tiscali didnt conveniantly prioritise these independed speed tests on their traffic shaping equipment.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 8 years ago
The independent tests quoted appear to be connection speed, not throughput test results.
Posted by dragon1945 over 8 years ago
With Pipex Homecall I got 1.4 MB. When Tiscali took over this steadily decreased to less than 1 MB and then I had a complete outage for 3 days, after which I had a month at 330 kbps. They did nothing to sort this out, and didn't offer any rebate as compensation. In the end I switched to Talktalk and get an average 1.5 MB. BT only offer 512 kbps, so needless to say I am not a BT customer either.
Posted by gppixelworks over 8 years ago
Throughput tests at ThinkBroadband show Tiscali's download at 0.3 Mbps and upload under 0.20 Mbps.

We switched to BT on the same physical line and exchange and saw our those numbers increase to 0.35 Mbps and download 1.35 - 1.40 Mbps.

Additionally, when we migrated from Tiscali within days of issuing a MAC Tiscali generated a cease thus cancelling the MAC and leaving us without broadband for roughly 14 days.

Logs:
Tiscali
http://www.thinkbroadband.com/profile/connections/viewconnection/id/10580.html

BT
http://www.thinkbroadband.com/profile/connections/viewconnection/id/24124.html
Posted by chasrow over 8 years ago
I have been in contention with Tiscali since May My up to 8Mb in the evenings after 5PM is a about 300Kbps; this evening 291KbpI cannot get any sense out of them inspite of giving them all info necessary. My Line supports 6.5 Mbps They want me to phone, an 084 number too!
Posted by lpainter over 8 years ago
chasrow is fortunate - my experience is similar,but my evening speed has consistently dropped and recently down to a 10% of his !! They just wear you down, until you threaten to migrate and then perhaps some improvement will take place. They wil continue with "traffic shaping" until there is a masive outcry.
pamplona
Posted by buzbuz1 over 8 years ago
I don't think the ASA have any idea of the scale of the problems with Tiscali's broadband speed they should take a look at Tiscali's own website Forum where there are Hundreds of people who are trying to get what they pay for perhaps the ASA should take the customers complaints rather more seriously rather than Tiscali cover-up.
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