Virgin criticised for not knowing its network coverage

The Advertising Standards Authority has taken ISP Virgin Media to task for aiming targeted adverts at consumers who could not receive the company’s fibre services.

The company sent out fliers to homes noting the street name, hoping to drum up business in areas on its fibre network. But in a case that highlights how randomly patchy broadband services can be, the consumer discovered he was not able to receive the full range of service, despite Virgin’s enthusiastic assurances.

“Dear Householder. We’ve already done all the hard work and connected your street to our state-of-the-art fibre optic cable,” the circular said. “In fact, you may have seen Virgin Media vans driving around your area.

Service available in Virgin Media cabled streets only

“We’ve done the checks for you and you’re ready to go. We’ve connected your street, run the checks and you’re all ready to go. In fact, all you have to do is pick up the phone.”

However, the small print of the advert told a different story, noting: “Service available in Virgin Media cabled streets only.”

In its defence, Virgin said their sales system showed that the complainant’s address could receive broadband and digital TV but the address had been marked as ‘unserviceable’ on their postcode checker, because it could not also receive telephone services.

“Virgin believed the average consumer would not be misled by the mailing but would be aware of the manner in which Virgin Media services would be delivered to their properties and would therefore understand that while the area was connected to the Virgin cable network, there would be very rare occasions where a property could not be connected due to unforeseen circumstances,” the ASA said.

The ASA upheld the complaint, and Virgin has told the authority it now intends to send targeted mail fliers only to addresses that can receive its services.

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