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BT panicks consumers into getting more phone lines

Advertising Standards not interested though

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

BT is running a misleading and panic-inducing ad on its site in which running too many products on a phone line causes a fire.

The animated gif shows three plugs connected to one phone line with the tag "Suffering from socket overload?" It then shows some smoke and it bursts into flames before the message "Get an additional line, check out our special offers" appears.

The simple fact is that there is no way that a phone socket will burst into flames by running several devices off it. Sadly, most people probably don't know this for a fact and hence the ad is deliberately misleading.

Here is the ad itself. (You can access it by going to BT.com, clicking At Home, click on "comeback to BT" (menu on left) then on BT SurfTogether.) Or just click here.

BT's dodgy socket-burning ad

When this was pointed out to BT, it replied that it had discussed the matter with its marketing division and they will make sure the problem is "dealt with properly". Quite what was the result of these discussions, we have no idea, because no one has got back. And the ad is still running on the BT SurfTogether page.

Reg reader Simon Martin even went to the trouble of contacting the Advertising Standards Authority over the ad. It replied that it had changed its code for online ads - presumably because of the workload this would cause. The code now only applies to: online ads in "paid for" space i.e. banner and pop-up ads; ads in commercial emails; and sales promotions wherever they appear online.

So, basically, you can claim anything you like in an ad if it's on your own site - without recourse. Hmmm. ®

It's all true! Otherwise the ASA would have shut us down

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