Freeserve ads 'misleading', says ASA

'As long as you like' can't have limits, says the Advertising Standards Authority in a ruling against Freeserve

UK ISP Freeserve has been ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority to drop its current claims that customers can surf for " long as (they) like" after rival Internet service provider BTopenworld lodged a complaint.

The ASA claimed the offer is "misleading" -- some might say untruthful -- in that surfers were being disconnected after two hours online or ten minutes of inactivity, making a mockery of the "as long as you like" claim.

The exact wording of the Freeserve advertising said: "With Freeserve AnyTime you'll have the freedom to go on to the Internet any time of day and night for as long as you like."

The ASA investigated the offer after being tipped off by Freeserve rival BTopenworld.

The reason for BT turning canary most likely dates back to a case earlier this year when BTopenworld was fiercely criticised for a surf 'Anytime' offer which was far from the case.

BT's 'Anytime' originally actually entitled people to surf for just 16 hours per day. BT then further stretched the definition of 'Anytime' by cutting the online time even further to just 12 hours.

Infighting among ISPs is not uncommon; another trip to the ASA for BT in July was the result of complaints from Telewest, who took issue with claims BT was making about the speed of its broadband service.

For a round-up of the latest on ISPs, broadband and related issues, see the Telecoms News Section.

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