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TalkTalk's tiny package most certainly not 'best value', tuts watchdog

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TalkTalk has been ordered to never brag again about its "best value" broadband, telly and phone package after BSkyB complained to the ads watchdog.

The Advertising Standards Authority berated budget ISP TalkTalk for claiming its service was directly comparable to its rivals' products but at a lower price. In fact, TalkTalk's package didn't measure up to its competitors in terms of the number of channels available, and was simply a cheaper service.

The telco had thus wrongly boasted in a national press ad that it offered "Britain's best value unlimited TV, broadband and phone". The company tried to back up that claim in the small print by comparing its product with those from BT, Virgin Media and BSkyB.

The watchdog disagreed with the wording even after TalkTalk argued that punters would understand that "best value" referred to price, rather than a comparison of what was actually included in a package.

"[I]n our view a claim to provide the 'best value' product or service could imply a comparison restricted to price alone only if it was presented in such a way as to make that context clear to the consumers reading the ad," the regulator said.

The ASA also chided TalkTalk for prominently displaying in large font the words "unlimited TV", which appeared under the words "Britain's best value". The watchdog said in its ruling:

We understood that the TV element of Sky's triple play package included significantly more channels than TalkTalk's, some of which were pay channels, and considered consumers were unlikely to regard that element of the two packages as comparable.

Because the 'best value' claim was not adequately qualified to make clear it related to a comparison of package prices only, and because we understood that the features of the packages being compared were not in all cases comparable, we concluded that the claim 'Britain's best value unlimited TV broadband and phone compared to Sky, Virgin and BT' was misleading.

TalkTalk was told that the ad must not appear again in its current form and the biz must make it clear that - where "best value" claims are used - the ISP is making comparisons with its rivals on price alone. ®

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