The Danish Consumer ombudsman has recently found that the Danish telephone companies TDC, Telia and Telenor has been misleading the consumers in relation to the speed on broadband internet. The Consumer ombudsman has on that ground requested the companies to change their marketing regarding broadband.
The Danish consumer ombudsman has raised five cases concerning misleading advertisement for broadband.
The Danish consumer ombudsman Christina Toftgaard Nielsen states on the consumer ombudsman’s official website:
“TDC, Telia and Telenor have misled consumers by promising them a speed of broadband, as they could not get. I have therefore asked the companies to change their marketing. “
“The speed is very important for consumers when choosing broadband. Therefore, it is important that telecommunications companies provide accurate information about it in their marketing. It was on that basis that I took the five cases up to assessment.”
The Consumer ombudsman criticism:
The five cases were especially related to the use of words like “speed guaranty” or “up to”-speed. The consumer ombudsman found in all five cases that the companies were using those terms in a misleading way.
For example, TDC was promising the customers through advertisement on their website a speed guaranty on broadband. In the advertisement it was however not made clear, that not all customers could obtain that speed.
On their website TDC was further advertising with a speed guaranty combined with wire free internet. The advertisement did not clearly state that the speed guaranty could not be reached when using the wire free internet but only when using cable.
Telenor advertised on the website with 4 different “up to”-speed on broadband. This without clearly stating that a rather big part of the customers could not get the promised speed, and that the speed could not be reach if the customer was using wire free internet.
In both cases the consumer ombudsman stated that this was misleading and requested that the advertisement was changed.
Guidelines on advertisement regarding speed on broadband
In 2013 the consumer ombudsman launched a set of guidelines for advertisement on broadband speed. According to the guidelines a telephone company can use the wording “up-to” when advertising. However the company must be able to guarantee that at least 80 % of the customers/potential customers can actually obtain this speed.
Further the company shall in a sufficient distinctive way inform the customer about minimum speed and the information shall be in relation to the “up-to” information.
When the company’s advertisement is regarding interconnected products the company must, with examples, clearly state how the speed is affected when the connected services is in use – i.e. whether using the wireless router provided from same company affects the actual speed that the customer may obtain.
Also other limitations such as geographical shall be mentioned to the customer.
Bottom line, the five cases brings no surprises as such but underlines again the importance of assessing the terminology used in advertising and marketing of a company’s products, including paying attention to guidelines already published on fair marketing.
The take-a-way from the cases is simple; if your marketing of products and/or services fairly brings promises and expectations to your audience, you must be able to honour such promises if you don’t want to be in conflict with the principles in the Danish Marketing Practices Act on fair marketing.