Free ISP ntl is to be investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following nearly 50 complaints about adverts for its free service, ntlworld.
According to the ASA ntl is now being formally investigated. "There are two grounds for this," explains an ASA spokesman. "Firstly the ad campaign was misleading because it implied it [the free service] was available nationwide immediately and we have heard that a lot of people are still waiting for their [installation] discs. Secondly ntl did not make reasonable effort to deal with the response it got to the campaign."
ntl was among the first wave of ISPs to deliver rock-bottom Internet prices, offering totally free Internet time in return for customers switching to ntl as their telecoms provider. BT (quote: BT) customers have to pay £10 for an access box.
ntl has now pulled its advertisement campaign but claims this is due to over demand rather than ASA pressure. "All national TV and print advertising has been removed because we are wary of creating more demand. When there is a queue we are not going to go on advertising it," says an ntl spokeswoman.
Responding to claims that ntl has been irresponsible in the handling of its free Internet service the spokeswoman argues that no-one could have predicted such demand. "We looked at various models from the US which predicted people would use the service for around 1,800 minutes a month. We are experiencing more than double that usage," she says. "We are now letting people that sign up know there is a wait. When something is free people will shout quite loudly until they get it. We just hope they carry on waiting and enjoy the disc when they get it."
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