Watchdog chides TalkTalk over 'free broadband' ad

The advertising watchdog has censured Carphone Warehouse's TalkTalk unit over a TV ad that promised free broadband, despite it being unavailable to some customers

The Advertising Standards Authority has rapped Carphone Warehouse's TalkTalk unit over a recent TV advert that promised free broadband even though it was not available to all customers.

The TV advert in question said: "At TalkTalk, we believe broadband should be free. When you get your landline from us, we give you broadband that's free."

The advert prompted complaints from 10 members of the public that the free service was only available in certain areas of the country, where Carphone Warehouse has undertaken local loop unbundling (LLU).

While TalkTalk broadband is available to consumers in non-LLU areas via a resold BT product, the service isn't free.

While newspaper adverts for the TalkTalk landline and broadband bundle carried a disclaimer alerting readers to the limited geographical nature of the free connection, there was no equivalent text shown onscreen during the TV adverts.

TalkTalk "acknowledged the oversight in not including a disclaimer in their TV ads", the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said.

"The ASA noted the free broadband service was not available in all areas of the UK due to the limited coverage of LLU. We acknowledged that TalkTalk did not have control of LLU but, nevertheless, considered that the ad did not make sufficiently clear that the free broadband service was not available to all TalkTalk customers. We concluded that the ad was likely to mislead," the advertising watchdog noted in its adjudication.

The ad will not now be shown in its current form, and future versions will carry a disclaimer.