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Virgin Media sees the balloon deflated by ASA once more
Wednesday 27 June 2012 09:20:37 by Andrew Ferguson

Two adverts from Virgin Media have been banned by the ASA, one was an advert on a sponsored search engine, and the second referred to advertising copy on the website. In both cases the issue revolved around the speed doubling programme underway by Virgin Media.

British Sky Broadcasting challenged whether the claims:

1. "Cabled areas only" and "100Mb customers will see price-cut instead of speed doubling" in the small print in ad (a) was misleading and contradicted the main claim.

British Sky Broadcasting and two members of the public also challenged whether:

2. "I'm doubling everyone's broadband speeds" in ad (a) and "Richard Branson's doubling your broadband speed" in ad (b) were misleading, because exclusions applied.

Extract from complaint

While Virgin Media had consulted the copy advice people at CAP, who had advised that the phrase "I'm doubling everyone's broadband speeds" would be difficult to justify if the advert carried exclusions and the copy should have made it immediately obvious that the claims only applied to Virgin Media customers. It appears that this advice did not carry through to the final adverts.

The ASA upheld both of the concerns due to the exclusions, which were that existing 100 Mbps customers would see a small price cut, and Virgin Media National (ADSL/ADSL2+) customers would see no doubling at all.

The speed doubling is intended to take 18 months to complete, and confusingly for consumers, some see the downstream connection speed double, but the upstream speed does not. This is because the upstream speeds sometimes require further work due to the architecture of DOCSIS cable services.

As with many larger providers they rely heavily on claims from the Ofcom speed testing results, but the fact that this testing concentrates on the largest providers, and does not publish any results for areas like the Digital Region may result in consumers being less willing to sign up to new entrants to the market who may actually provide a better broadband experience. Is the maintenance of the existing duopoly an unintended consequence of Ofcom attempting to inform the speed debate?


Posted by drummerjohn over 4 years ago
Damage done and Virgin got away with it. The advert still went out and got peoples attention. Shame VM are so desperate to grab money and not improve service levels.
Posted by tazz_uk over 4 years ago
^^^ 110% agree
Posted by sniper2k3 over 4 years ago
I chucked my notice in with VM on the 10th of this month. Got fed up with having a connection I can only describe as being something like pre-dial up. Chased VM around for weeks only to be told no faults. All tests show problems which they denied. Internet is totally unusuable at peak time.
Posted by JonasT over 4 years ago
They need to be reprimanded, i joined up after adverts of "best for gaming" which were then banned by the ASA. This seems to be a recurring theme with Virgin Media. I also questioned the doubling of speed, when my 100 will go to 120 and i already get speeds in excess of 105 Mbits, also being told every time i call for what ever issue, that my broadband modem does not support more than 50 Mbits.

Virign Media are dire.
Posted by SYM9 over 4 years ago
Must admit, I can't fault VM or the service I have recieved. I once broke away based on a 'probable 6-8Mb' service from Sky, but that actually turned into a <1.5Mb service once active.

I have 100Mb from VM, and it works great. Looking forward to my 120Mb upgrade and something called a superhub. Joy.
Posted by michaels_perry over 4 years ago
VM are dire in my experience as a National customer, thinking of leaving. They refuse to acknowledge there are faults and give terrible service to us. Why are they not doing anything to improve National? They take our money and then don't deliver.
Posted by bigredbus007 over 4 years ago
I don't recommend VM anymore. I'm looking to leave after their so-called unlimited service is limited and restricted. They have even cut me off completely for up to 12 hours. I'm still waiting for VM to provide me with their Virgin Dictionary with their definition of "unlimited". In my dictionary it is defined as "without limitations" but in Virgins version it includes a "fair use policy clause". If Virgin can't handle an "always on" service (their words not mine) then they shouldn't have oversold their limited bandwidth and server space.
Posted by Joppy over 4 years ago
The problem is VM always get the full impact and benefit of their misleading adverts before the ASA finally bans them. So VM just continue to do it time and time again.

Unless the ASA gets some balls and takes some serious action, nothing will change.

I for one would like to see VM forced to make regular apologies in ad breaks, giving the details the advertising statndards found to be untrue or misleading ;)
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