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Product: Telecommunications (Broadband)
Advertiser: Virgin Media
Medium: Internet (Company Website)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10
The advertisement was a red banner situated on the broadband landing page of the Virgin Media website that included a cut-out white section which displayed the text “SALE NOW ON”.
The centre of the banner featured illustrative text as follows:
“250 Mb BROADBAND €30 A MONTH FOR 6 MONTHS”.
The advertisement provided information on three broadband packages as follows:
€30 a month
€60 a month after 6 months
No activation fee applies
€41 a month
€71 a month after 6 months
No activation fee applies
€55 a month
€85 a month after 6 months
No activation fee applies"
The complainant objected to the advertising on the basis the pricing was misleading.
The complainant stated that the pre-sale price available to customers was cheaper than that advertised by Virgin Media as the “sale” price.
The complainant listed the price difference in two of the plans listed on sale.
Regarding the 1Gb broadband plan, the complainant stated that the pre-sale price between 28th Dec and 4th Jan was €810 p.a. The complainant compared this figure to that of the sale plan for 1Gb which totalled €840 p.a.
The second plan referred to by the complainant was the 500 Mb plan available pre-sale
for €642 p.a and available for €672 during the sale period.
The complainant stated that having contacted Virgin Media regarding the sale prices, they were told that ‘the full price of the 250 Mb plan was €60 per month so their current sale offers half price for 6 months’. The complainant commented that the price for the remaining 6 months of the sale contract resulted in the annual bill for the sale plan being more expensive than the non-sale price available previously.
The advertisers stated that they recognised the importance of providing clear and transparent advertising so as not to mislead consumers.
The advertisers outlined the details of their sale launched on January 5th, stating that it was valid for a six-month period and to new customers only. The three packages included had waived activation fees and were available as follows:
- 250Mb Broadband for €30;
- 500Mb Broadband for €41;
- 1Gb Broadband for €55.
The advertisers advised that prior to this sale period, the pricing for the same packages, for a 12-month period, between 3rd October 2021 and 4th January 2022 was:
- 250Mb Broadband for €40;
- 500Mb Broadband for €50;
- 1Gb Broadband for €65.
- Each of these packages was also subject to a €30 activation fee.
The advertisers stated that the sale offers referred to by the complainant referred to the headline monthly sale price and described monthly savings of each package in comparison to their pre-sale pricing.
The monthly savings outlined by the advertiser were:
€10 for 6 months with the 1Gb Broadband package;
€9 for 6 months for the 500Mb package;
€10 for 6 months for the 250Mb package.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Committee noted the pre-sale and sale prices with their relative monthly savings for the first six months of the contract. They also noted that the total cost of the promotional offer (over the 12-month contract) was higher than the product’s previous pricing over a twelve month period.
They considered that consumers would consider a sale offering to result in a reduction in the total product offering (the 12 month contract).
The Committee considered that the use of the descriptor ‘sale’ was likely to mislead and in breach of Code Sections 4.1, 4.4 and 4.26.
Action Required: The advertising should not reappear in its current form again.