ASA orders BT to remove misleading broadband speed checker

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that BT should take its broadband checker from its website until it provides accurate information following a customer complaint

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered BT to remove the broadband checker tool from its website until it can provide accurate information, following a customer complaint.

The online tool allows customers to search for broadband services based on their landline phone number or address.

It advised a customer they would receive superfast fibre-optic BT Infinity at a speed of 23-33MB, but the customer questioned the quote's accuracy.

“The complainant challenged whether the download speed claims were misleading and could be substantiated,” said the ASA.

BT said the speed range was achievable and it was supported by an Ofcom broadband performance report.

But BT said it is not able to provide detailed analysis of non-BT customers' lines because that was dealt with by Openreach and it does not have access to data held by Openreach. The Ofcom report was therefore not appropriate to the customer that complained.

The ASA ruling said: “Openreach checked the complainant's line and confirmed that it lay outside the statistical range, and due to a variety of reasons, the complainant would be unable to achieve the quoted speeds."

The ASA sided with the consumer by upholding the complaint. “The ASA understood that the Ofcom report related to consumers in general. We also understood that speeds could be checked via BT's 'availability checker' by a specific phone number or by house number and post code and therefore considered that consumers would expect that any resulting download speed claims would be accurate for their address.

"We considered that the download speeds quoted on the BT website would be a material consideration for consumers when deciding whether or not to take up BT's superfast fibre-optic BT Infinity product.

“Because the website included a download claim related to a specific address, which was not available to that consumer, we concluded the ad was misleading.”

“The claim must not appear again in its current form. We told BT to ensure their availability checker provided accurate information,” added the ruling.

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications