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Telewest belted for 'spoof' mailshot

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Telewest has been ticked off for a broadband promo that the ad watchdog believed could cause "fear and distress" among pensioners.

The junk mail was sent to more than 600,000 homes and was designed to look as if a Telewest engineer had called round to install broadband - even though the cableco hadn't been asked to visit.

"Sorry we missed you," said the ad. "We were going to pop round on 9-11-04 [the date was printed to look like handwriting, btw] to switch your Internet connection to broadband. We know you hadn't asked us to. But as it won't cost any more than dial-up Internet from AOL, Wanadoo, BT or Tiscali, we thought you'd jump at the chance."

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 11 complaints including one via Southend-on-Sea Trading Standards and two from Solihull Trading Standards. Punters complained that it looked like Telewest had pitched up at the homes of the junk mail recipients and that this could upset older people.

Telewest rejected this and insisted that the wording on the leaflet made it clear that this was just a "spoof" and not "the officious style of a real calling card".

Although the ASA took this on board, it considered that the mailing was "likely to imply misleadingly to some recipients, particularly the elderly, that the advertisers had visited them and might therefore cause fear and distress without good reason".

Telewest has been told not to repeat the ad. ®

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