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ASA rules against BT’s best guess broadband availability checker

Should avail itself of the facts
Wed May 07 2014, 11:12
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THE UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a BT promotion for misleading customers about available broadband speeds.

The ASA said that it had received an objection to BT promotional material that asked for an assessment of how accurate the BT estimates were.

At issue was a speed checker tool placed online by BT that assessed a user's line for broadband readiness. The ASA said, "The complainant challenged whether the download speed claims were misleading and could be substantiated."

BT responded by telling the ASA that the speed range that it suggested was backed by an Ofcom report, but added that it would not be too precise because some lines are out of its reach, and as such their speeds could only be guessed.

"BT said that they were unable to provide detailed analysis of non-BT customers' lines because that was dealt with by Openreach and that due to their organisational structure, they did not have access to data held by Openreach," said the ASA.

"They said they had checked the complainant's line and confirmed that it lay outside the statistical range, and due to a variety of reasons, the complainant would be unable to achieve the quoted speeds."

The ASA considered this, but also considered whether consumers who inserted a postcode and house number should be given to assume some level of precise accuracy. It decided that they would.

"[We] understood that speeds could be checked via BT's 'availability checker' by a specific phone number or by house number and post code and therefore considered that consumers would expect that any resulting download speed claims would be accurate for their address," it said. Because the website included a download claim related to a specific address which was not available to that consumer, we concluded the ad was misleading." µ


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