UK advertising watchdog bans TalkTalk’s ‘99.9% reliable’ broadband advert

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UK’s advertising watchdog has banned a TalkTalk advert which claimed its broadband connection was a whopping 99.9% reliable.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated the alleged TalkTalk TV advert, which offered free unlimited broadband, following four complaints. While three of the complainants questioned whether the connection claim was misleading and could be substantiated, the fourth one felt the advert misleadingly omitted the fact that the offer was only available to new customers.

In its defence, TalkTalk said it had measured the availability – the amount of time a network is up and running over a defined period of time – between January and August last year, which was calculated to be 99.9986%. The company added that other factors beyond its control might affect availability.

The internet service provider said it did not consider the fact the offer was only available to new customers to be “material information” and so did not include it in the ad. However, it was included in the promotion’s terms and conditions.

The ASA said consumers would interpret “99.9% reliable” to refer to their complete broadband service.

“We were concerned that consumers would not be aware of the distinction between a provider’s core network and a user’s overall internet connection,” said the ASA.

“We considered most consumers would be interested in the reliability of their end-to-end broadband connection up to the point of their router or into their home, rather than the reliability of certain portions of the overall connection, when making a decision to purchase a broadband package with a particular internet service provider.

“We also noted that there were external factors that would affect overall connection reliability, which we understood TalkTalk would not have control over,” the ASA added.

“Because the evidence did not substantiate the likely interpretation of the claim, we concluded the ad was misleading.”

The watchdog has ordered Talktalk to stop running the ads in the current form and ensure that future ads must make network reliability claims clear and do not mislead that the deals are available to all customers.