Virgin Media has once again been sent to the headmaster's office for a caning after producing a misleading ad.
This time the Advertising Standards Authority lambasted the telco's attempts to convince some of its customers that they could receive Virgin Media's "state-of-the-art fibre optic cable" product even though it was clear this was not always the case.
A postal circular ad was distributed by the company which stated firmly that its fibre service was available to those people who received the pamphlet.
One such customer challenged the plausibility of VM's claim, however. The ASA subsequently upheld that complaint.
The regulator said in explaining its decision:
The ASA acknowledged that Virgin Media now intended to send the mailings only to addresses that received the services. We noted, however, that the ad included text such as 'We've already connected [street name]. So it's really easy to turn you on … We've already done all the hard work and connected your street to our state-of-the-art fibre optic cable … We've done the checks for you and you're ready to go. So it's easy to turn you on to a world of entertainment … All the hard work's already been done. 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'. We considered the ad would be understood to mean the recipient could receive Virgin Media services.
We noted the ad included the small print 'SERVICES AVAILABLE IN VIRGIN MEDIA CABLED STREETS … In limited cases, cabling may not extend from the street to individual premises. A survey will confirm this as soon as possible after enquiries being made. Check if your home's connected at virginmedia.com …', however, we considered that contradicted, rather than clarified, the impression given by the claims that the recipient's property was ready to receive the advertised services. We noted that was not the case and therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
Virgin Media has been repeatedly placed on the naughty step by the ASA this year for producing misleading ads.
The ISP was told that the advert 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," the watchdog added. ®