Virgin Media forced to drop 'unlimited' claim
Virgin Media have been forced to drop an ad that claimed they gave 'unlimited' broadband after BSkyB and BT secretly teamed up and grassed them up to the ASA. Virgin Media users will know that their service isn't exactly unlimited, and many will have found their download speeds cut by 50%.
This is bad news for Branson's internet wing, as their whole marketing campaign is based around being faster than their rivals.
The Advertising Standards Authority received three complaints (the two from BSkyB and BT, and another from a member of the public) who said the advert was misleading consumers, saying that Virgin Media operates a "traffic management" policy that significantly cuts the internet speed of users who download a lot.
Virgin Media argued that a user would have to download 11,000Mb at peak times to have their broadband speed slowed temporarily, which wouldn't affect 97.7% of their customers. However, ASA pointed out that consumers would invariably want to partake in "bandwidth intensive activities" thanks to Virgin's marketing.
"In that context we considered that the restriction of reducing users' download speeds by 50% was not moderate and that any reference to it was likely to contradict, rather than clarify, the claims that the service was 'unlimited'," the ASA said. "We therefore concluded that the claim 'unlimited' was misleading".
The ASA banned the advertisement and told Virgin Media that they can no longer claim to be 'unlimited' or crow about 'no caps', unless they change the way they do things.
A spokeswoman for Virgin Media have come out swinging, saying: "Our customers receive unlimited, superfast broadband and, even if they're one of the tiny minority traffic managed for a short period of time, Virgin Media customers can download more than other 'unlimited' services, including BT Infinity."
"Unlike BT or Sky, all Virgin Media customers can download as much as they like, safe in the knowledge we'll never charge them more."