Virgin Media under fire over broadband speeds

Virgin Media under fire from Advertising Standards over misleading broadband speed ads
Virgin Media under fire from Advertising Standards over misleading broadband speed ads

Virgin Media is coming under flack today from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for claims about broadband speeds it made in a recent advert as part of its "Hate to Wait" campaign.

What Virgin Media failed to make clear in the ads, as its major rival BT was quick to point out to the ASA, is that it caps around five per cent of its customers (basically, the small minority of its heaviest downloaders) on all its broadband packages between 10am and 3pm, and between 4pm and 9pm.

Unclear ads

The ASA issued a statement claiming: "We considered that one of the main objectives of the ad was to highlight the speed with which customers could download a TV show on all three of Virgin Media's packages and, in the absence of any clarifying text, readers were likely to understand that those speeds applied at all times. "

A Virgin Media spokesperson responded to the ASA's decision, issuing the following statement: "We believe our 'Hate to Wait' campaign provided a simple and transparent comparison between broadband speeds for consumers looking to choose between Virgin Media's M, L and XL broadband packages.

"Our traffic management policy helps ensure the majority of customers receive the quality of service they expect from our fibre-optic broadband product by managing demand from the heaviest users at certain times of the day. The ASA has noted only a very small proportion of our customers have been subject to traffic management."

Wrist slapped

Virgin Media has been told by the ASA that all future ads featuring specific download times and comparisons with other broadband providers, must also clearly include information about bandwidth caps.

In turn, Virgin Media has assured TechRadar today that it has no plans to change its traffic management system policy of capping its heaviest downloaders, in order to ensure an improved service for the majority of its broadband users.

"There are lots of factors which affect speed. Consumers are concerned about it but often it is competitors keeping an eye on each other," said an ASA spokesman.

Adam Hartley