BT has been scolded by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over falsely advertising the availability of Infinity broadband.
The telecoms company was given a slap on the wrist after 15 people complained to the ad watchdog over claims that BT kept delaying the date of when they would be able to receive the service. Some claimed that when they went to check online, the date had been pushed back repeatedly over long periods.
BT promoted the broadband service with an “availability checker” which users could search, based on their landline phone number or address, in order to find out which services were currently available to them. This included Total Broadband and Infinity.
Next to the field where users entered their details was text claiming that different locations would be enabled to support BT Infinity at different stages.
One disappointed customer heard on 20 September that Infinity would be available on the 30th of the month, based on his landline number, but was later told on the 25 September that the date had been changed to 31 December 2012.
BT fired back at the claims, telling the watchdog that it had made “significant changes” to the wording of the Infinity checker to clarify that the dates shown were provisional and the final changes went live on 16 October 2012.
It blamed “last minute delays caused by circumstances beyond [its] control” which it said meant it was not possible to “absolutely guarantee that a cabinet would be Infinity-enabled on the dates shown”.
BT argued that it had given customers sufficient information to prevent them being misled and said it was working closely with Openreach, which provided the data that went into the checker, to improve the accuracy of the information that went to customers.
BT also said a new tracker will give users better and more accurate information.
However, the ASA found that, because the checker had given a provisional date of the Infinity service roll out, and the fact that in some cases BT had pushed this back by months, the setup was not fair.
It also pointed out that some people had used this roll out guideline to decide whether to register with BT, meaning they were left without the services – and as a result, BT’s website was misleading.
The ASA told BT that the claim should not appear again in its current form.
BT’s press office refused to comment.