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TalkTalk’s 'best deals on broadband' claim was misleading

Wednesday, June 3rd 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

TalkTalk’s claim that it had “Britain’s best deals on totally unlimited broadband packages” has been found to be misleading by the UK’s advertising watchdog.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated a TalkTalk ad that appeared in the regional press following a complaint by Sky.

Despite TalkTalk's claim, Sky said its broadband was cheaper over a 12-month minimum contract term.

The ad featured three different broadband packages offered by TalkTalk and savings claims based on a comparison with BT.

Current online prices for Sky and BT deals were provided in small print.

TalkTalk said it had made its comparisons over an 18-month period because all of its fixed line packages had an 18-month minimum term.

It acknowledged that Sky offered some 12-month broadband packages but said its comparable fibre packages were over 18 months.

TalkTalk believed a comparison over 12 months would be “disingenuous given that Sky and TalkTalk customers would still be within their minimum contract terms”.

Easily overlooked

The company told the ASA its claims had been “appropriately qualified” through text in the advert and that consumers had been given the relevant material to make an informed decision.

The ASA upheld Sky’s complaint, saying the claim “Britain’s best deals on totally unlimited broadband packages” was likely to be interpreted as a lowest price claim.

It said the ad gave the impression that for each of the advertised packages, TalkTalk was the cheapest over 12 months.

“Sky offered its customers a 12-month minimum contract term for its totally unlimited broadband service and we understood that over 12 months, Sky were cheaper for that particular package than TalkTalk,” the watchdog said in its ruling.

“We acknowledged that over 18 months, TalkTalk was cheaper than Sky for all three advertised packages and noted the ad stated that the comparison was based on an 18-month period.”

The ASA said that although the headline claim was qualified in the ad, the qualification was not in a prominent position and could easily be overlooked by consumers.

“Because we considered the ad also implied that 'Britain’s best deals on totally unlimited broadband packages' applied to the cost over 12 months, and TalkTalk was not the cheapest for all of the advertised packages over that period, we concluded the claim was misleading.”

TalkTalk has been told that when making price comparisons it should make sufficiently clear the contract period over which they are calculated.

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