Tuesday, 15 January 2013

What are the ASA for?

It seems the ASA have some strange ideas. We know, for example, that advertising "fibre broadband" is allowed when not actually provided by fibre. We know that "up to XMb/s" has to be a figure that only disappoints 90% of people expecting the XMb/s figure not 100% of them and hence forcing web sites to lie about the top speeds you could get.

However, as adverts often annoy me, I recently made a couple of complaints. Simple on-line web form on which to complain, so why not? It has to be better than just shouting "I don't belieeeeeve it" in my best Victor Meldrew voice.

One was about SkyGo "you don't pay for nothing" when you do pay for mobile data. Apparently that is not at all misleading so they are doing nothing. Not impressed.

Another was broadbandchoices.co.uk who advertise that they compare the best deals from all of the providers in my area. They don't. It looks like they cover some of the major providers only. I suspect they only cover those paying them commission or some such. Understandable as a business model to list every provider for free (like many comparison sites) does not make enough for TV adverts generally. But none the less, if that is what they offer they should not claim to cover all providers. They could even say "major" providers, I expect, and be truthful enough.

Interestingly the site says they get commission from some providers, and states they are completely impartial, so maybe we can get listed. I'll contact them and find out. Even so, until AAISP and every other provider is in fact listed they don't compare all providers as the advert suggests.

So, first off, ASA ask for some evidence. I explain that, for example, they do not list AAISP for my postcode, or other small providers like us. Why they could not see that themselves I do not know.

They now come back basically saying that the web site is outside their remit, as, whilst they do cover some web site adverts, they don't cover search engine type stuff like this. They seem to have forgotten that I complained about a TV advert (which is in their remit) being untruthful... I have replied to that effect. We'll see what they say.

In the mean time, I'll try and get us listed and see what happens :-)

Update: Brodbandchoices say that it would be logistically impossible to include a listing for us. Odd that - somehow ispreview and thinkbroadband manage it. They have not answered my complaint that the TV advert says *all* the best deals, not just "major providers" or that their web site says they are impartial.


  1. Did think the same thing about these people. Their claim was something like "find the right broadband for you", but a quick squiz on their site showed that there was no way I could search for IPv6 enabled ISPs, something which is a pre-requesite for me...

    1. Hassle them on twitter maybe, as, it seems, I cannot find an email address for them!

    2. They haven't bothered replying. No surprise there then.

  2. Seems that they list themselves as a "price comparison calculator". Surely a search engine only returns found results - doing some calculations on those results and presenting the findings is more than a search engine can do - especially since those findings can be biased/inaccurate/misleading and therefore very likely to be the subject of a complaint...

  3. The ASA have rejected every complaint I've sent in.
    But then again so have the ICO over more serious matters... nothing amazes me these days. People rarely do their job right or care.

  4. A small bit of sense it seems http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/01/16/bt_asa_ruling_line_rental/

  5. They do that occasionally to throw you off the scent. The law of averages suggests that they must appear to get it right occasionally...

  6. Logistically impossible to add a database entry? Lol. More like 'You think we do this for free? Pay up first..'

    So they're basically an advertising outlet for major providers. Nothing wrong with that, but they should at least be honest about it.

  7. Their contact us page says:

    If you are a broadband provider and you want to be listed on broadbandchoices, please give us a call to discuss this further and how we may promote your broadband service to our site visitors and our affiliates.

    Maybe it will become logistically possible if you ask them to promote your services ;)

    1. Indeed - it seems pretty obvious that they are just an advertising channel for a number of larger players or people that pay them money, and, it appears, not impartial or listing all providers as they claim.

    2. Have you looked at the ofcom scheme?



      3.48 It is important that price comparison information is full and comprehensive. Price
      comparison calculators need to include an appropriate number and type of
      communications providers in order to give consumers accurate advice on whether
      they would be better off switching.

      3.49 Excluding particular providers or services from the calculation could mislead
      consumers – and we believe consumers are unlikely to be attracted to price
      comparisons that do not include a sufficient number of services or exclude some key
      players. Equally however, we appreciate that in certain markets – such as the market
      for fixed line calls or narrowband Internet access – it would simply not be possible for
      calculators to include each and every service available.

    3. you get the impression that somebody saw "internet access" in point 3.49 and thought "ah, that's us sorted then" without realising the magic word "narrowband" before it (I know I did until I re-read it again!). This only relates to dial-up internet