Sky and Virgin Media both up in front of the ASA
ASA has this morning published its latest set of adjudications which these days regularly feature broadband service providers. The ASA has upheld a number of complaints about Sky Broadband advertising and given a mixed response to some advertising for the Virgin Media V+ Digital Video Recorder (DVR).
The complaints about the Sky advert which featured in the national press centred around a direct speed comparison between Sky and Virgin Media, followed by price comparisons. Virgin Media and just two members of the public complained raising the following four points:
"Virgin Media Ltd and two members of the public challenged whether:
The claim "When over 350,000 people tested their lines on thinkbroadband.com, the results showed that Sky's broadband customers got on average faster download speeds than Virgin Media's" was misleading, because:
1. the tests referred to were carried out between October 2006 and January 2007 and were therefore out of date when the ad was published in July 2007.
2. it did not make clear that Sky had faster average download speeds because Sky broadband customers who took part in the test would have purchased broadband with higher speeds than Virgin customers.
Virgin Media and one member of the public challenged whether:
3. the price comparison was misleading, because it compared Sky's price for broadband as part of a bundle with Virgin Media's price for stand alone broadband.
Virgin Media challenged whether:
4. the pricing information for Sky broadband was misleading, because it did not make clear that consumers would also have to pay for BT line rental at £10.50 per month."Complaints raised against Sky Broadband
On all four counts the ASA upheld the complaints and has told Sky not to repeat the advert. The speed tests referred to were published as part of a speed test round by us in speed-test round-up in February 2007. The ASA noted the caveats we had placed on the page, in particular that the averages were across the whole product range sold by a service provider, and at that time the Virgin Media 20Mbps product only had a few test results. As we reach the end of 2007 we would expect the 20Mbps product to have more tests.
This highlights the problems of trying to compare speeds for two different providers, particularly across different product ranges. In the day when 99% of consumers all had a 0.5Mbps fixed sync speed product it was easy, but rate adaption and variation in speed/price across the country make comparisons harder. This has been behind our plans to encourage user registration so we know more about broadband packages they subscribe to.
The Virgin Media advert the ASA looked into was brought to their attention by Sky and two members of the public:
"V++ Sky- You may be surprised to learn that Sky+ isn't the only digital video recorder around. Our V+ comes with more than a few pluses of its own ... +Better than Sky+ because you can record two channels and watch a third: Sky+ only allows you to record one channel while watching another channel ...+Free servicing and repairs - Sky charge a minimum call out fee of £65 if you're not covered by a warranty ..."Text from national press advert
The complaint which suggested you could record two shows and watch a third was not upheld, since with Sky+ while you can record two live shows and watch a third pre-recorded, you cannot watch another live show. The other complaints about the comparisons between the two DVR's were upheld as was the inference that all service visits cost £65 with Sky+.