Broadband News

TalkTalk slapped for upset to customers over capacity limit being hit

The ASA has ruled on two complaints from the public about marketing they received where the thrust of the email was "your usage is affecting your broadband service. Let’s fix it".

An email received 14 February 2019 had a subject which stated the recipient’s name followed by text which stated “your usage is affecting your broadband service. Let’s fix it”. The email included the heading “Your broadband isn’t keeping up with you”. The ad stated “We regularly look at how your broadband is performing to make sure you’re getting the best service. We’ve noticed that, at peak times, your current broadband may no longer be giving you the capacity you need”. The ad stated “That’s why we recommend upgrading your line to fibre, which will give you 4x more than your current capacity”.

Complaint to ASA

Our immediate thoughts on reading this adjudication was that TalkTalk has not had usage limits for many years, but it turns out that what TalkTalk was doing was monitoring the speeds of customers connections and if actual throughput reached close to the maximum they would send out the marketing email suggesting people upgrade to 'fibre'. It is not clear if this was just an upsell from ADSL2+ to VDSL2, or also covered upsell from VDSL2 40/10 products to VDSL2 80/20 products (i.e. between the two speeds of FTTC service that TalkTalk sell).

The fact that the email was apparently sent out to those who reached two thirds of their lines maximum speed and therefore would have hit almost every customer who did a iOS security update or was updating a large bit of software such as Fortnite with its almost weekly multi Gigabyte patches. What is disheartening is that in an age where there are so many scams emails and phone calls around your internet is broken or will cease to function in 24 hours the wording as seen on the ASA website may have had many ignore the email as a possible scam.

The ASA upheld the complaints and in future marketing TalkTalk is "not to imply that their customers were closer to reaching their broadband data capacity than was actually the case.".

We can see why TalkTalk ran this campaign as there are incentives for providers to get more people onto the FTTC platforms and this pressure is going to grow as ADSL2+ ages and for some of the public they may well not be aware that better speeds have arrived in their area. One of the key areas around the PSTN switch-off and eventual migrations of everyone to full fibre is handling those on legacy products who may have no need for the extra speed and/or are financially constrained and paying an extra few pounds a month will stretch a fixed limited budget.

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