Virgin Media ‘fastest wi-fi’ advert banned by watchdog

  • By Tom Gerken
  • Technology reporter

Image source, Getty Images

A Virgin Media advert has been banned for misleading customers into thinking the firm offered faster wi-fi than its rivals.

The ad boasted it had the “fastest wi-fi guarantee of any major provider”.

Virgin said it found the ruling “slightly baffling”, and maintained it guaranteed a faster minimum speed than its competitors.

But the watchdog ruled most customers would understand its wi-fi was faster than others’, which was not the case.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) looked into the claim following a complaint from Virgin’s competitor Vodafone.

Virgin told the ASA the ad was meant to convey that it guaranteed customers a minimum 30Mbps download speed on wi-fi – a faster minimum speed guarantee than others offered – with customers entitled to credit towards their bill if the minimum speed was not achieved.

Vodafone, by comparison, offers a minimum wi-fi speed guarantee of 10Mbps.

But the ASA disagreed with Virgin and upheld the complaint.

“The difference between guaranteeing the highest speed and offering a guarantee which promised action by the advertiser if a minimum speed was not met was a subtle one,” it said in its decision.

“We did not consider that the headline claim… would have been understood as Virgin Media intended by consumers, and that a significant proportion would understand it to mean that Virgin Media guaranteed they offered the fastest wi-fi service of any major broadband provider.

“Therefore, because the claim had not been substantiated as it would be understood by consumers, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”

As a result, Virgin Media cannot run the ad again, and the regulator told the firm “to ensure that they did not imply that they guaranteed the fastest wi-fi service of all major broadband providers if that was not the case”.

The advert was displayed on the homepage of Virgin Media’s website on 3 July 2023, under the headline “our wi-fi guarantee”.

The firm specified that the guarantee applied only to customers in areas that could get fibre optic broadband, and in particular its M50 broadband package, which offers an average download speed of 54Mbps.

It promised customers a £100 one-off account credit if they did not get at least 30Mbps download speeds in every room of their home, after it first offered up to three wi-fi signal boosters to help achieve the speeds.

In its response to the ASA, Virgin said “a large number of major broadband providers promoted wi-fi guarantees to consumers”.

It said it believed its customers would have understood the intended meaning of its ad, due to the word “guarantee” as well as the explanation of what it meant – meaning they would not have been misled.

In a statement Virgin said it was “surprised and disappointed” by the ruling. “Given no consumers complained about the advert, and independent polling has shown the majority of people correctly understood what our claim meant, it’s slightly baffling that the ASA has ruled in this way,” a spokesman said.


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