The advertising for eircom’s eVison television service offered the following:
"eVision TV for only €10 a month in an eircom bundle
Sign up today to get 6 months free…"
The terms and conditions contained within a footnote at the bottom of the poster referred to the following:
“Applies only to eVision Essential Pack which is €10 per month with the first 6 months free, offer available until 31/03/2014. eVision is only available to eircom residential customers who have signed up to eFibre and is subject to a minimum contract of 18 months. eFibre is subject to availability. €10 per month is in addition to your existing eircom bundle price. Prices are for Direct Debit only and inclusive of VAT. For full terms and conditions see eircom.ie”
The complainants, Sky Ireland, believed that eircom had not provided the information required by consumers to allow them to make an informed transactional decision.
They said that eVision was an eircom television product that was delivered to customers over their Fibre broadband network. In order to purchase eVision customers had to sign up to eircom’s eFibre service. When customers signed up to eVision their eircom broadband service had then to be provided over a more stable connection. This could result in a reduction of up to 29Mb/s in a customer’s broadband speed experience, depending on how far their home was from the exchange. They therefore concluded that as eircom had failed to mention that there would be an impact on broadband speeds when signing up to their eVsion service that they were misleading their customers by omission.
The advertisers said that in May 2013 they launched their high speed broadband service “eFibre” which delivered speeds of up to 100Mb to their customers. In January 2014 they launched their TV service which is only available to eFibre customers i.e. customers who receive eircom’s fast fibre broadband product. They disagreed with Sky’s comments and strongly refuted any suggestion or allegation that their advertising for eVision was factually incorrect or misleading to consumers. They said they would never omit or conceal material information regarding the impact of eVision on their customers’ broadband experience.
Eircom said that in order to receive eVision a customer must have eFibre and this fact had been clearly stated in their advertising.
The advertisers went on to say that the maximum broadband speed an eFibre customer availing of eVision can receive is 80Mb (recently increased from 50Mb).
When an eFibre customer wishes to avail of eVision their broadband speed is stabilised by a maximum of 20Mb, this enables them to receive a stable feed of high quality television service, using their broadband. When the eVision service is not being used, it does not consume any broadband speed and customers can then expect to receive broadband speeds of up to 100Mb. They said that this fact is further explained on their website as follows:
“eFibre and eVision Line Speed
You can get a maximum of 80Mb download speed. We deliver our eVision TV service through your eFibre line. To ensure that you receive a great eVision picture quality at all times, we optimise your eFibre line speed. This line speed will be a little lower than available to eFibre only customers but means that we can deliver a stable, uncongested broadband speed. Note that the actual broadband speed available to you for surfing could be affected by various factors (e.g. which eVision services you are using (HD channels consume more bandwidth than standard channels), your wi-fi router, the amount of users connected and other electrical devices that may be using the same wireless channel.”
In conclusion the advertisers said that customers who had signed up to eVision had not notified them that they were suffering a significant material degradation to their broadband speeds. They refuted Sky’s allegations that they were keeping information from their customers in relation to the variations in their broadband speeds as this information was available in both their terms and conditions and on their website.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They considered that a reduction in broadband speeds when signing up to the eVision television service was a significant factor. In deciding on the eVision TV service they were of the opinion that not all consumers would be aware of the necessary reduction in broadband speed. However, having regard to the fact that the advertisement was for eVision, rather than broadband, they decided that rather than uphold the complaint they would make a recommendation that all future marketing communications contain an appropriate reference to the impact of broadband products on broadband speeds and that the advertiser consider seeking copy advice from the ASAI Secretariat in the matter.