ASA bans unlimited claim in Virgin Media broadband ad header image

Published: 27th Mar 2013

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has banned Virgin Media from using the term 'unlimited' in adverts for its broadband services.

This followed complaints from rivals Sky and BT, which claimed Virgin was misleading its customers. The phrase 'no caps' will also be prohibited from use in future promotions.

A statement from the ASA said that the "high-speed nature" of Virgin Media's adverts and its emphasis on performance was likely to appeal to "those consumers who wished to carry out bandwidth intensive activities, such as linking multiple devices to their connection".

However, Virgin's service is not literally unlimited, as users are subject to data thresholds and could have their download speeds reduced by as much as 50 per cent if they exceed these limits.

In light of this, the ASA concluded that the terminology used in the advert was misleading. The organisation also ruled that the claim "Unlimited downloads. Download and browse as much as you like with no caps and no hidden charges”, was not accurate, as it implied there were no provider-imposed restrictions on a customer’s ability to download data.

In response to the complaints, Virgin said the advert was acceptable because less than four per cent of its customers exceed its data threshold, which means that for the majority of users the expectation of an "unlimited" service is met. However, the ASA ruled the potential for misleading consumers is still present and the promotion must not appear again in its current form.

Virgin Media has recently been purchased by telecommunications company Liberty Global in a $23.3 billion (£15 billion) deal. However, the company's brand will remain in use.

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Posted by Craig Roberts