The business has been told ads the must not appear again in their current form.
Following complaints the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has concluded the headline prices quoted by Virgin Media Inc (LON:VMED) in a series of ads to be misleading.
The ads, a press ad offering four bundles, a circular, and a TV ad featuring the runner Usain Bolt, quoted headline prices that were only available to customers that also took Virgin phone line rental for an additional cost each month.
Response from Virgin Media
Virgin Media said they received Committee of Advertising Practice advice in respect of the positioning of the requirement for customers to pay line rental. They considered that the press ad, was in line with the advice received, and included information setting out the requirement to take line rental and said the price was in the body copy, not in a footnote.
Regarding the circular they said that their usual practice was to include the line rental requirement and price within the first paragraph, e.g. "… you can get your first 3 months free with selected bundles when you take a Virgin phone line for £13.90 a month". They said they had re-briefed the relevant teams to ensure that this was included in future copy.
Regarding the TV ad they said the requirement to take a phone line was set out in the supers. Accordingly, they believed that the extent of the commitment a consumer must make to obtain the advertised price was made clear. They said that, in addition, this was in line with standard industry practice.
ASA states the line rental was a non-optional monthly charge, required and controlled by the advertisers, which consumers would have to pay in addition to the advertised headline price, in order to obtain the bundle. Although the cost of the line rental from Virgin had been included in the ads, it had not been included in the quoted headline price for each of the bundles.
They note that the Code required quoted prices to include non-optional charges that applied to buyers and because the compulsory monthly charge of the line rental had not been included in the quoted headline price, the ads were misleading.
Therefore, ASA states the ads must not appear again in their current form. And Virgin has been told to ensure that all non-optional fees are included in the quoted headline prices in future.
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