ASA bans ‘misleading’ TalkTalk WiFi Hub advert

Mark Johnson's picture

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has banned an advertisement for telco TalkTalk’s WiFi Hub following a complaint from rival BT.

The ASA investigated a series of TV, radio and website ads for TalkTalk's WiFi hub, which claimed that customers "won't get a better WiFi signal from any of the other big providers”.

Rival telco and broadband provider, BT, had complained that the claims in the TalkTalk advert were misleading and could not be substantiated. 

TalkTalk, though, believed that consumers would understand the claims to refer to the router’s ability to provide their connected devices with a practical Wi-Fi signal across their home, the ASA said. 

Moreover, TalkTalk did not believe consumers would understand the claim to be solely based on how far a signal reached, as that would dismiss how practical the signal was at such a range, the ASA added.

“We sought advice from Ofcom regarding the evidence submitted by TalkTalk”, the ASA said. 

“The testing was only carried out in one test house with no accompanying tests in real consumer homes. 

“We considered that it was in principle acceptable to only conduct tests in test houses as they could create a set of standardised, reproducible conditions. 

Normal conditions

However, they needed to demonstrate that the environment was typical of normal use and conditions, the ASA noted, for instance by reflecting the level of interference in real consumer homes. 

"In this case, however, only co-channel interference from one other Wi-Fi network was tested for, while TalkTalk had not tested for any forms of non-Wi-Fi interference that would be present in consumers’ homes. We therefore considered that the tests were insufficient to reflect the interference that typically occurred in everyday homes. 

“Furthermore, no recording of the levels of Wi-Fi interference at the time each router was tested had been provided, meaning that we were unable to verify that all the routers tested were subjected to consistent levels of interference.

"We also noted that the routers were only positioned facing one direction, and were not rotating (for instance on turntables) when the Wi-Fi signal was being tested.

"Therefore, we could not be certain that the reported performance differences between the routers only occurred at the specific angle at which they had been placed. 

ASA bans ad

The ASA said the ads “must not appear again in their current form”. 

“We told TalkTalk Telecom Ltd t/a TalkTalk to remove the claims “You won’t get a better Wi-Fi signal from any of the other big providers” and “giving you a Wi-Fi signal that can’t be beaten by any of the big other providers”, and not to make comparative claims about their router in future based on inadequate testing.”

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