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Virgin Media gets spanked twice as ad watchdogs side with Sky

Virgin Media gets spanked twice as ad watchdogs side with SkyVirgin Media has been ticked off twice by the ASA, once over an advert for its TiVo service and again over a complaint raised about Sky.

An advert for free Virgin Media TiVo box failed to make clear that while the box itself was free an installation fee (£49.95) plus an extra £3 a month to use TiVo was needed. The ASA has upheld complaints from Sky and nine other members of the public who complained.

“We considered the TiVo activation fee and TiVo monthly charge to be a bundled service (the TiVo bundle), because a consumer could not use the TiVo box without paying the activation fee,” said ASA in a statement.

Elsewhere, Virgin Media had complained about a Sky winter broadband sale which offered ‘totally unlimited downloads’, and ‘totally unlimited broadband’.

Virgin Media: Speed’s the limit

Virgin Media challenged the ‘totally’ part, arguing that it as it implied there were no restrictions on the amount of data downloaded, apart from the headline speed of the service. Because of this, Virgin Media took issue, saying that copper ADSL couldn’t offer the same level of service as its own fibre broadband.

Virgin Media gave the example of a 10Mbps Virgin Media customer with traffic management applying during peak times could theoretically download 87 GB of data over a 24-hour period. Comparatively, a Sky ADSL customer on an average speed of 7.5 Mbps with no traffic management applied could theoretically download 77 GB of data in the same period.

ASA ruled customers would understand that the ‘totally unlimited’ referred to traffic management rather than top speeds. “We did not consider that the average consumer would infer that ‘totally unlimited’ meant the broadband service was free from the inherent limitations found in the network,” says the report.

Earlier this year, new advertising rules came into place that stopped ISPs from advertising broadband services as unlimited unless they truly were unlimited and didn’t have unadvertised hidden caps.

Back in April when the rules came into effect, we took a look at Virgin Media and Sky (as well as BT, TalkTalk and Orange) to see just how unlimited they were and what their traffic management policies entailed.  

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