Virgin Media held to task over coverage
In a circular sent out to a consumer which suggested that their cable services were available in the specific street, one of the residents receiving the leaflet complained to the ASA because they are actually unable to get the service.
"Dear Householder We've already done all the hard work and connected your street to our state-of-the-art fibre optic cable. In fact, you may have seen Virgin Media vans driving around your area. We've done the checks for you and you're ready to go. So it's easy to turn you on to a world of entertainment … All the hard work's already been done. We've connected your street, run the checks and you're all ready to go. In fact, all you have to do is pick up the phone. Call today, and we'll arrange a time for an engineer to pop round, install everything and show you how it all works …".
Small print included "SERVICES AVAILABLE IN VIRGIN MEDIA CABLED STREETS ONLY. Subject to network capacity, status and credit checks. In limited cases, cabling may not extend from the street to individual premises. A survey will confirm this as soon as possible after enquiries being made. Check if your home's connected at virginmedia.com..."Extract from Virgin Media circular
The complaint was upheld, even though the small print indicated that a survey to confirm availability of the service would be carried out. The ASA determined that the small print contradicted the main body, and thus the advert should not run in the same form and importantly told Virgin Media to not make claims or imply that people were able to obtain their services if this was not the case. In short the main headline for any future adverts that target specific areas need to be clear that not every premise will be able to get the service.
What is interesting in this case is that Virgin Media appears to have several availability databases, and the leaflet was based on the ability to receive TV and broadband, but the property in question was unable to get a telephone service. This in itself seems an unusual situation, as the coax from the street cabinet is fed with a pair of copper wires for the telephone attached (yes, no fibre is present in the final run to a property), we therefore presume either the copper pair is broke or just not present due to the age of the original coax to the property. Even so it is a surprise to find out that in a street with the cable infrastructure and a property already connected Virgin Media is not willing to fix the connectivity when someone places an order.