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BT grilled by ASA over superfast postcode checker confusion

BT has been taken to task by the ASA over misleading customers about the availability of superfast broadband services. 

A postcode checker on BT’s site, powered by data from Openreach (BT’s network arm), has been set up to give customers a better idea of when they’ll be able to order superfast FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet)-based BT Infinity services. 

While the dates provided by the postcode checker were estimates, customers found that BT would roll back estimated launch dates in some cases. 

Openreach told the Advertising Standards Agency that these revisions were due to logistical snags encountered when liaising with local planning authorities and energy companies over the siting of street cabinets. 

Regular readers will know that councils don’t always take kindly to the idea of bottle green street cabinets springing up on historic cobbles and that local wildlife can sometimes cause engineers to rethink their plans

Because Openreach couldn’t supply BT with a good idea of how accurate the revised superfast ETAs were, the ASA ruled that they were misleading. BT has been banned from posting any dates without knowing how robust Openreach’s revised dates are. 

BT sources hit back, saying that the dates supplied by its current postcode checker comply with the ASA’s ruling. A spokesperson said: “The ASA ruling relates to an old version of the Openreach website and during the past year we’ve improved the site and our process for communicating fibre ‘go-live’ dates to address the ASA’s concerns.”

Last Summer, Openreach released an overhauled postcode checker that let customers find out where the nearest street cabinet is. 

The methods used to power revised upgrade dates have already been improved, meaning the postcode checker currently live on BT’s site fully complies with the ASA’s ruling. BT has promised that future updates to Openreach’s search tool will let customers know when  superfast services are available at exact addresses rather than just exchanges or postcodes. 

This was announced in August 2014 and, somewhat ironically, there’s still not an estimated launch date for this. 

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