BRIT ISP TalkTalk has received a telling off from the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) over 'misleading' emails that falsely claimed users were approaching their data limit.
Users complained to the ad watchdog after they received emails from TalkTalk earlier this year which featured the subject line: "Your usage is affecting your broadband service. Let's fix it."
The email, sent to customers between February and March, continued: "We regularly look at how your broadband is performing to make sure you're getting the best service. We've noticed that, at peak times, your current broadband may no longer be giving you the capacity you need… That's why we recommend upgrading your line to fibre, which will give you 4x more than your current capacity."
Another email warned customers that they had hit their data capacity "three times in 30 days" and included a bar chart indicating the dates on which the users' broadband was supposedly "at capacity."
In response to the ASA's probe, which kicked off after two users moaned about the misleading emails, TalkTalk said that "capacity" referred to the maximum amount of data the line could provide at any particular time, and said it believed it would be interpreted in that way by consumers.
TalkTalk also fessed that neither complainant had reached their broadband capacity, although claimed that both had neared that level.
The ASA ruled against TalkTalk, stating: "We had not seen evidence that the complainants had reached their data capacity, therefore because the claims had not been substantiated, we concluded the ads were misleading. The ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation)."
It said that the ads must not appear again in their current form, adding: "We told TalkTalk not to imply that their customers were closer to reaching their broadband data capacity than was actually the case."
In a statement given to INQ, a TalkTalk spokesperson said the company was, unsurprisingly, "disappointed" by the ASA's ruling.
"Consumers are using the internet more than ever and many are looking for a faster, more reliable connection," a spokesperson said. "Our aim with this campaign was to inform customers, based on the data we had, that a fibre connection may improve their overall experience considering their current usage."
This ruling comes just months after the ASA banned a number of TalkTalk adverts over 'misleading claims' about the performance of its bundled WiFi hub. µ
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