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Virgin Media slammed by ASA for misleading fibre-optic claims

Virgin Media has once again been chastised by the Advertising Standards Authority regarding a misleading advertisement.

The ISP produced and distributed a circular letter, claiming that its customers could quickly and easily receive an upgrade to its fibre-optic service when, in fact, access to the spectrum was limited.

The reality was revealed after one recipient of the circular decided to contest the plausibility of the ad, which was emblazoned with the bold statement: "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."

Double-checking the claim on the circular against Virgin Media's own postcode checker for fibre-optic availability, the customer found out that he would not be able to access Virgin Media's full range of fibre optic services - his address was only able to receive digital TV and broadband.

Virgin Media has defended itself by blaming its error on a technical issue within its sales system. It has provided assurances that direct mail will, from now on, only be sent to addresses that show up as "serviceable" on both its sales system and postcode checker.

It also highlighted that small print on the fliers stated that "in limited cases, cabling may not extend from the street to individual premises." However, the ASA saw this statement as a contradiction, rather than a clarification, of Virgin Media's earlier claims.

The ASA ruling stated (opens in new tab): "The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Virgin Media to ensure they did not in future state or imply that consumers were likely to be able to obtain their services if that was not the case."

Specifically, the circular was found to be in breach of three CAP Code (Edition 12) rules (opens in new tab), specifically 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.9 (Qualification).

Virgin Media was scolded by the ASA back in 2011 (opens in new tab) for running a misleading advertising campaign that claimed it offered faster broadband speeds than it actually delivered.

Aatif is a freelance copywriter and journalist based in the UK. He’s written about technology, science and politics for publications including Gizmodo, The Independent, Trusted Reviews, Newsweek, and ITProPortal.