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Virgin Media hit with ASA ruling after BT embarks on complaints spree

Virgin Media has come under fire from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after BT complained to the watchdog about misleading savings claims, alongside separate claims over Talk Talk and Sky ads which were not upheld.

BT raised three issues about five national press ads and one web ad from Virgin, which advertised a variety of deals around its Starter Collection package.

BT was not happy with the savings claims that appeared in the ads and questioned whether they could be substantiated because the company understood that new customers had not been charged the higher prices of £18 and £20 per month referenced in the ad.

The telecoms company also accused Virgin of not making closing dates for the offer sufficiently clear.

Virgin Media defended the use of the higher price points in its ads and said they had been paid by various customers and added that it believed the presentation of the price comparisons was not misleading.

On the closing date claim Virgin said that the statement "Offer available until at least" was not intended as a definitive end date.

The ASA said it felt consumers would understand the ads to mean that the advertised offers were time limited promotions. Additionally, because the watchdog had not seen any evidence that new customers had paid the higher reference prices of £18 and £20 per month, it considered they had not been established sufficiently.

The ads must not appear again in their current form and Virgin Media was told to ensure its ads do not mislead consumers about the time limited nature of advertised offers.

It was also told to ensure that closing dates were made sufficiently clear and to ensure that savings claims were not likely to mislead consumers.

In separate complaints, BT challenged whether references to the word "free" in a press and TV ad by Sky were misleading and whether a national press ad by Talk Talk advertising a free YouView box was genuine. Neither were upheld by the ASA.

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