Bulldog muzzled over misleading ads

Bulldog muzzled over misleading ads

ISP's advert slammed over 'truthfulness' and 'prices'

Broadband provider Bulldog has been rapped over the knuckles for breaking the Committee of Advertising Practice code on 'truthfulness' and 'prices'.

Bulldog advertised its 8Mbps broadband service for £9.75 with an asterisk pointing to the small print warning that users would also need a Bulldog phone service costing £10.50 a month.

Members of the public and rival broadband provider BT objected to the advert, which ran in the UK national press.

The small print referred read: 'New customers ordering Bulldog Go@ctive by 30th November 2005 will be charged £9.75 per month for the period of their contract. Bulldog home phone line required (£10.50 per month) and is only available with Bulldog @ctive packages. Broadband speed is up to 8 meg downstream. Terms and conditions apply.'

Bulldog said that the ad was no longer running but that it would advertise the 'up
to 8 meg broadband' service again in the future.

The complaints were upheld despite the Advertising Standards Authority's (ASA's) agreement that most consumers would understand that broadband services required a phone line.

"We considered, however, that Bulldog's offer was bundled, because new customers could not obtain the broadband service for £9.75 a month without also paying £10.50 a month for Bulldog's telephony service," said an ASA statement.

"Because it was bundled, Bulldog's offer differed from those of some of their competitors, who did not require customers to take their phone line when taking their broadband service."

The ASA said that the advertising breached CAP Code clauses 7.1 (truthfulness) and 15.3 (prices). It told Bulldog to amend its future ad vertising to include the phone line requirement directly below the headline price claim.

Members of the public also complained to the ASA that they could not get the offered service.

Some consumers contacting Bulldog were told that the 'up to 8 meg' service was not available for their phone number and were offered a lower speed service at a higher price.

However, the ASA dismissed these complaints. "We noted that Bulldog could deliver the service to 32 per cent of UK households and businesses and also noted that the ad stated 'Subject to local availability' and 'To find out if you can get Bulldog, call...', which we considered made clear that Bulldog was not available to everyone," said the ASA statement.