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TalkTalk broadband emails banned by advertising watchdog

Two TalkTalk emails which told customers "your broadband isn't keeping up with you" have been banned by the advertising watchdog.

In one email sent in February, TalkTalk recommended customers upgrade to fibre and said "your usage is affecting your broadband service". The second, which was sent in March, said "you've hit your limit three times in 30 days".

Two people complained about the adverts, and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said that neither had reached the maximum amount of data their lines could provide.

See our How to get cheap broadband guide for how to switch and more.

What did the advertising watchdog decide?

The ASA said that consumers would see the emails as showing that the speed provided by their broadband deal was not high enough to handle their internet usage, because it had caused their line to reach its data capacity.

However, it continued to say: "Neither complainants' internet usage resulted in them reaching the maximum amount of data their lines could provide. Rather, the email was sent to customers who had reached two-thirds of their line's bandwidth capacity twice in a 30-day period."

The ASA acknowledged that the second ad included text which said: "30 day usage data: days reaching line limit calculated on your daily data usage and average customer data usage patterns, assumes more than 66% of line capacity used", but said this was at the bottom of the email and wouldn't override the overall impression of the ad that consumers had reached their data capacity.

It said the ads must not appear again in their current form, and told TalkTalk not to imply that its customers were closer to reaching their broadband data capacity than was actually the case.

What did TalkTalk say?

TalkTalk said that neither of the people who complained about the emails had reached their broadband capacity, although both had neared that level.

It said that the language used in the emails sent to the complainants did not state that their broadband was definitely insufficient for their needs, but instead said that claims, such as "broadband may no longer be giving you the capacity you need" and "your broadband can start to feel slow", were conditional.

A TalkTalk spokesperson said: "We are disappointed with the ASA ruling. Consumers are using the internet more than ever and many are looking for a faster, more reliable connection. Our aim with this campaign was to inform customers, based on the data we had, that a fibre connection may improve their overall experience considering their current usage."

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