Nobody in their right mind can handle slow internet, it can literally double the amount of time it takes to do something online, whether you’re reading articles, buying things or keeping in touch. And if you’re like me, the buffer wheel is you’re arch-nemesis. The thing is, internet providers know this and they throw tempting phrases around to entice us; ‘super-fast broadband’, ‘fibre optics’, etc, you’ve heard them all before. It’s all well and good if IPs can back up their claims with the goods, but there’s been cases in the past where providers have gotten in trouble for exaggerating the quality of their internet service.
The UK advertising authority (APA) has had stern words with Virgin Media over a different kind of illicit advertising and has banned them from displaying some of their online ads. The problem stems from phrases such as ‘Stop the Broadband Con’ and ‘you deserve the truth’, which suggest that the other ISPs out there are lying to us about the quality of their broadband.
Unsurprisingly both Sky and BT claimed that the advert was derogatory and the ASA agreed. But where it gets really interesting is when BT claimed that Virgin’s ‘Faster broadband means better broadband’ slogan is misleading as “there is sometimes not a perceivable benefit to web surfing or video streaming from faster broadband speeds”. The ASA again agreed which means one of three things; BT and the ASA are lying, Virgin have idiots working for them who know nothing about the internet and how it works, or the third and most likely, they are misleading customers into believing the faster speeds offered by them will lead to better quality internet. In other words, they’re committing the offences they are accusing BT and Sky of, all in the same advert.
It doesn’t stop there either. The ASA found a staggering total of eight infringements in the advert including another ‘misleading statement’ by the company which says ‘we deserve the truth.’ Virgin Media claimed an average speed of 6.5Mbits/s would lead to delays in internet usage. Sky claimed that this was an exaggeration, as users with that download speed would generally not incur delays. The ASA said there was no evidence to suggest there would be such delays and that the claim was therefore misleading.
I guess the moral of the story is to do your research and don’t get reeled in by adverts. Ironically it’s the internet which can stop us being ripped off. There are hundreds of consumer forums and advice websites (such as WHICH?) out there, so clue up before subscribing to an internet provider.