Ad watchdog bites Plusnet over 'unintelligible' radio ads

ISP claims voiceover bloke read without being digitally sped up

Plusnet has been rapped over the knuckles by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority after the regulator ruled the terms and conditions of its radio ads were too garbled to understand.

The two ads, broadcast in March this year, were straightforward plugs for Plusnet’s ISP wares. Someone complained to the ASA, saying that the ads were “unintelligible” because the T&C wording was spoken too quickly.

Of the two, both of which advertised separate deals, the first advert’s legally required spiel said: “Prices may change. 18-month contract. New customers in low-cost areas only. Traffic prioritisation applies. See Terms apply.”

The second said: “Standard UK minutes and texts. Prices may change. Rolling monthly contract. Offer ends 14th of March. Terms apply. See”

In its defence, BT-owned Plusnet said the ads were spoken at an “acceptable speed” in the same voice as had been used for the actual advert wording, adding that it had “recently reviewed” its radio adverts to have them slowed down during recording. The telco said that the ads had not been sped up in post-production to squeeze in the aural equivalent of the small print.

Banning the adverts until they had been edited, the ASA said: “We considered that the words were difficult to make out and that they had been delivered too quickly to be understood by listeners. Because those conditions had not been presented in a clear and intelligible manner, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”

In March this year Plusnet copped an £880,000 fine for billing customers who had left the Sheffield ISP. A clearly irritated Ofcom consumer group director, Lindsey Fussell, said at the time: “This fine should serve as a reminder to telecoms companies that they must adhere to Ofcom’s billing rules at all times, or face the consequences.”

Back in 2013, Plusnet was bitten by the ad watchdog for telling telly viewers that its broadband services were available to “everyone” – which they weren’t. ®

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