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Virgin shredded by ads watchdog once more

Ethernet cable

By Barry Collins

Posted on 13 Jul 2011 at 09:37

Virgin Media has once again incurred the wrath of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over claims made in its broadband commercials.

In a mammoth ruling by the ads watchdog, six out of 10 complaints about the company's broadband adverts were upheld. It comes only a fortnight after Virgin was last censured for its broadband ads (albeit unfairly in the opinion of PC Pro editor Barry Collins). It's the 21st occasion over the past four years when Virgin Media has either had a decision upheld or partially upheld by the ASA.

The latest complaints largely focused on Virgin's assertion that its "fibre optic broadband is around twice as fast as BT, Sky and Talk Talk's comparable packages".

Virgin was comparing its up to 10Mbits/sec fibre packages with the rivals' up to 8 or 10Mbits/sec ADSL services - a comparison made by telecoms regulator Ofcom in its regular broadband speed tests.

While the ASA didn't uphold BT's complaint that Virgin wasn't comparing like for like (i.e. pitting fibre against ADSL), the ASA did uphold two complaints that Virgin failed to take BT's Infinity fibre lines into account, and Virgin was further rebuked for failing to "state prominently which services were being compared".

Virgin's claim that it offered the fastest fibre broadband in the UK was also struck down by the watchdog, which noted there "were localised instances of niche providers or other ISPs providing trial products to a limited number of consumers that offered speeds that were faster than Virgin's".

Finally, Virgin was handed another couple of raps on the knuckles for claiming that faster download speeds would make low-bandwidth services such as online shopping and social networking faster, and also for suggesting that faster download speeds necessarily equated to better performance in online gaming.

The ASA delivered its now customary punishment to the cable provider: Virgin must not run the ads again.

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User comments

Virgin Media and Oscar Wilde

Perhaps Virgin's marketing department realises that "the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about".
On a more sensible front, since most advertisers regularly change their campaign tactics, being censured by the ASA just encourages the next stretch of the advertising teams "only slightly untrue" creativity.

By milliganp on 13 Jul 2011

Of course....

.....there is no such thing as bad publicity and any publicity generated by the toothless and useless ASA will hardly stop the "pour encourager les autres" effect. Ho hum. :)

By jontym123 on 13 Jul 2011


Everyone who hasn't should read the linked article by Mr Collins.

Virgin seem to be doing more for upholding advertising standards and improving the UK's access to fast broadband than the ASA or OFCOM have ever achieved.

By rozman on 13 Jul 2011


What is a consumers alternatives to a BT line, or a Virgin Media Cable?

By CraigieDD on 13 Jul 2011

"the ASA did uphold two complaints that Virgin failed to take BT's Infinity fibre lines into account"

Maybe compare it with Virgins 100Mbits/sec service instead?

By chapelgarth on 13 Jul 2011

Yeah, imho BT are far bigger rogues when it comes to broadband.

They consistently, persistently and deliberately hide the fact that most of their packages are not unlimited usage. They have a broadband line speed predictor that says one thing before you buy and a lower value after you do!! Oh, and you can't change the dns gateway value on their Home Hub to something like OpenDNS to help protect your family from inappropriate content.

After a very unhappy 2 months with BT broadband, I'm now happily back with Virgin.

By timothynt on 14 Jul 2011


what happened to my comment!!!

and BT infinity does not even compare with virgin's 50meg, considering Virgin says "49.54Mb is what our customers typically get
" which is not what i would say for the BT infinity

By mobilegnet on 14 Jul 2011


I think we should register our protest and switch to Virgin Media immediately

By gavmeister on 14 Jul 2011

do not be fooled

I had VM for two years, we were having ping and jitter problems for roughly 2 years, i mean it took them 2 years to upgrade their servers so that the utilization problem got sorted, basically if there is a fault on your line, they will not fix it. on a plus side, we did not pay for like a year, their customer service people were very kind on the credit, but i would rather pay and get good ping

By mobilegnet on 14 Jul 2011

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