ASA slams free Internet access ads

Ads for free Internet access services have been slammed in the Advertising Standards Authority’s latest monthly report.

The ASA upheld three out of six complaints from AOL Bertelsman Online and the public about a BT SurfTime national press and poster ad campaign.

The ASA agreed the BT ad, created by AMV.BDDO, was misleading on two counts. It agreed with AOL Bertelsman Online’s claim that the two tariffs shown on the BT ads misleadingly implied both were available from all ISPs (Internet service providers) and a claim by a member of the public about the non-availability of SurfTime to existing BT Internet customers.

The third claim upheld resulted in the ASA insisting that a footnote about the geographical availability of SurfTime was made more prominent.

Some 167 complaints about a direct mailer for NTL’s free Internet service ntlworld poured into the ASA, after applicants waited several months for a CD-Rom to allow them to install the new service.

These complaints were upheld by the ASA, which forced the company to cease advertising free Internet access until the service could be supplied to all applicants within a reasonable time. Another complaint about upgrading set-top boxes free of charge was not upheld.

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