Skip Navigation

ASA adjudicates against Virgin Media
Wednesday 08 April 2009 10:57:40 by Andrew Ferguson

Virgin Media once again has been the subject of an adjudication by the ASA with the complainants being Sky and the ASA. Both complaints were upheld and relate to a national press advert that promoted the fact that cable broadband should connect at the same speed all the time, whereas ADSL is variable depending on a variety of factors.

The complaint from Sky centred around the fact that it believed Virgin Media would not have sufficient capacity to provide all customers with 20Mbps at the same time. The ASA challenged whether the comparison between the cable and ADSL services was misleading and unfair.

The ASA upheld the complaints it seems mainly based on the belief that consumers will believe the 20Mbps claim to refer to speeds they will see in the home, i.e. actual throughput speeds. Virgin Media did have a footnote in the advert warning that "actual 'throughput' cable broadband speeds were affected by user volume, as well as the speed and capacity of users' computers" but the ASA felt this was a contradiction after promoting the 10 out of 10 will get 20Mbps headline claim.

One aspect not considered is that the 3 out of 10 claim for ADSL at 8Mbps or faster was based on a national figure, where as the 10 out of 10 for Virgin Media actually only referred to those who have the service already. It is not uncommon to find people in Virgin Media cable areas not able to get the service because they refuse to install due to distance from existing network to the property, or someone has refused to sign a wayleave order, the later is more common in rented accommodation and flats. So while the phrase 'post-code lottery' can be applied to ADSL, it can in a slightly different sense be applied to cable broadband as well.


Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
A perfectly valid complaint, in fact i bet it took the ASA all of 5 seconds to decide against Virgin Media, or atleast it should had done considering on their website products are tagged as UPTO xxMb
Good to see the ASA recently have been getting more and more complaints about companies that bend the truth or just outright lie.
Posted by GMAN99 over 8 years ago
More Virgin bashing please, their adverts are funnier than some of the late night comedy shows on TV at the moment.
Posted by uniquename over 8 years ago
Very odd that they should uphold a complaint from themselves.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 8 years ago
Be even more odd if they overturned a complaint by themselves!!
Posted by wirelesspacman over 8 years ago
Just had a leaflet through the door advertising Virgin Media. To quote:

Type of broadband

Virgin Media - Fibre optic
BT Total - Copper phone wire

More blantant lies!
Posted by cyberdoyle over 8 years ago
Rather than advertising a product if people provided a decent service word of mouth would soon bring in the punters, advertising revenue would be better spent making the service good in the first place.
Posted by uniquename over 8 years ago
[cough]Ever heard of irony? :)

And I though the piblicity comaring Fibre Optic to Copper to the premises was already ruled out by either Ofom or the ASA?
Posted by uniquename over 8 years ago
Oh heck, oh for edit.

"publicity", "comparing" and Ofcom.

I'm competing with Andrew for typo king.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 8 years ago
An older ASA ruling decided as VM fibre/coax hybrid has a higher proportion of fibre it can be called fibre optic. Though in the face of pure fibre products this will look harder to maintain, and on this basis FTTC VDSL2 can be advertised as fibre optic.

Confused? If not now, you will be.
Posted by GMAN99 over 8 years ago
So if I smelt bars of metal that are 60% gold and 40% copper can I market them as pure gold? Due to the higher content of gold? ;P
Posted by Groovehound over 8 years ago
Nice one, GMAN99; that's just the way to put it for the layman!
I simply suggest everyone with any little complain use the ISPA's form when VM have refused to give you proper customer service (when, not if).
Posted by EnglishRob over 8 years ago
What gets me is the advert for TV, Broadband and Phone for £24 a month or whatever it is. It isn't £24 a month when you consider you HAVE to take the phone line at an ADDITIONAL £11 per month.

It also gets me about the Fibre Optic Broadband bit. I mean sure some of the network is Fibre but not to each individual house.

I've just signed up with Virgin and apart from the above I'm fairly happy.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 8 years ago
"I've just signed up with Virgin and apart from the above I'm fairly happy."

That's what baffles me too. I've been with Virgin at home for a few years now and again have been pretty happy with it on the whole. They are just getting themselves a bad name with all of this silly advertising in my view.
Posted by Spectre_01 over 8 years ago
wirelesspacman -

"Just had a leaflet through the door advertising Virgin Media. To quote:

Type of broadband

Virgin Media - Fibre optic
BT Total - Copper phone wire

More blantant lies!"

True the BT line would have aluminium in it!!! lol.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
The ASA have got this wrong, I think the likely reason behind the ruling is that it would damage all dsl providers sales significantly, and since the ASA are scared of doing that they ruled against the advert. Anyone agreeing with the ASA, please explain to me how they wrong when they say only 3 out of 10 on adsl can get 8meg and 10 out of 10 on cable can get 20meg, of course the fibre optic wording is wrong but ASA already set a precedent on that allowing the wording so they have themselves to blame for that.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
on point 1 - skys complaint, if thats upheld then technically every single broadband advert in the country on contended services is illegal, as no isp on shared backhaul can give their customers full speed all the time.
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
on point 2 - asa complaint seemed to originate around fairness, which goes back to my first comment on this post really since the ASA seemed to be concerned about fairness of advertising disregarding that VM have a superior local loop. Obviously if an isp has a better local loop they should be allowed to advertise that fact which the ASA appear to not want.
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Chrysalis - point 1 doesn't matter, no-one else has done adverts claiming to offer full speed all the time. Point 2, to most people 'access speed' suggests the speed the service runs at. It was a misleading advert, and hardly the first from VM's spin department.
Posted by DOUGIE53 over 8 years ago
I think virgins comments are probably quite true ,i live in a part of Glasgow where the highest download speed i have ever had is 145.4 kbps per sec as BT put in alluminuim wires ,how many other places have the same problem but dont know it.
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.