back to article Orange rapped for 'unlimited' broadband

Orange was cut down by advertising watchdogs today for claiming its broadband and home phone service is "unlimited" without mentioning its fair use policy. In an adjudication over a complaint by T-Mobile, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said Orange had broken its code of practice in a magazine ad. It neglected to …


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  1. Adam Potts

    ASA = easy stories?

    I already knew, I looked at the ASA website after reading the Apple ad story. So that 2 stories you've just re-worded from the ASA site now! If I see a story about EasyJet I'll go mad!

    Otherwise, top work...........

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very Very Wrong

    "At the moment the ASA thinks it's ok to describe such services as "unlimited", even if there's a fair use cap, as long as it's in the small print"


    The word UNLIMITED has a very clear dictionary definition. And that dictionary meaning most definitely does NOT mean that there are limits.

    ASA employees, its high time you did the job you're being paid for. Go away, read the dictionary and CHANGE that rule.

    Either that, or RESIGN and let somebody that CAN read the dictionary take over your jobs.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Read it HERE

    ps --

    1. Having no restrictions or controls: an unlimited travel ticket.

    2. Having or seeming to have no boundaries; infinite: an unlimited horizon.

    3. Without qualification or exception; absolute: unlimited self-confidence.

  4. Brian Wright

    Unlimited but with unstated restrictions

    I think it's totally disgusting that ASA is continuing to allow this mis-selling, so much for a body that is supposed to uphold standards and protect consumers.

  5. Tim Hale

    Re: Read it HERE

    By claiming something is without limit and omitting to mention there actually is a limit, doesn't that mean the service is 'seeming to have no boundaries' and therefore unlimited according to the definition?

    Sorry, couldn't resist that. ;-)

    When I read about unlimited services (which are grossly misrepresented) I can't help but remember a Simpsons episode where a TV ad (can't remember what for) said it guaranteed something and the voice-over quickly added 'not a guarantee'.

    If only this affected children in some way I'm sure there'd uproar: Think of all the perfectly good ads that have been canceled because children might copy them despite any child dumb enough to do so being welcome to remove themselves from the gene pool.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The ASA Are POINTLESS!!!!!

    Why the hell are these people not bethered about this, they need a good kick up and the arse and need to start doing the job they are paid to do...

    Its clear what the DICTIONARY decsribes as the definition of 'unlimited' and the ASA seem to not give a shit. They would be more likely to fight a change in the definition in the dictionary than get their fingers out and stop the miselling to tens of thousands of customers when its obvious ITS PISSING US OFF

  7. Fluffykins Silver badge

    OK, Lets put the boot on t'other foot

    Right. I'm prepared to sign up to Orange subject to a fair service policy, which might just happen to include fair accessibility and quality of customer service, but I won't actually say whay the limits are.

    In the event that Orange doesn't provide the quality of service I decide is satisfactory for the month, I get to keep my payment for the month.

    Wanna play ball Orange?

    No, didn't think so.

    So why do it to us punters?

  8. Dillon Pyron


    At least ya'll have some sort of advertising standards. We have to sue, which is like wanking with a pair of pliers, only not as pleasurable.

  9. Robert Lee

    What a joke !!!

    What is the point of having a body to monitor/control a sector when clearly they have not a clue how to do their jobs ?

    ASA should be here to protect the consumers, so in the case of Orange, they should fine them for misleading consumers, plus clearly and plainly stating that they (and other ISP) should NEVER use the word UNLIMITED if there are small prints of fair usage, anyway ? what are fair usage ? no one seems to know, so the ASA now think that by combining the words 'Unlimited' and 'Fair usage' is now acceptable ?

    Why do we even have ASA when clearly they cant even do their jobs right ? isn't it just a waste of public monies to open and run a whole department that, in the end, yields no results ?

  10. Dan

    Why only with data?

    Why is this type of advertising only used and accepted on data/bandwidth? They would never allow my 500 minutes a month mobile talk package to be advertised as unlimited *FUP of 500 minutes. I've never used 500 minutes in a month so it may "feel" like unlimited to me, but it's not, and Ofcom I'm sure would say it's not.

    My BT landline comes with "unlimited" calls. I have to pay for every one of them but they are unlimited in number and use. But BT could never get away with advertising it that way.

    So why do the rules seem different for data?

  11. Alexander Hanff

    Time to take action

    Seems obvious to me that ASA are not doing their job, quite why is anyone's guess but it wreaks of corruption. I will personally be putting a complaint in to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, I suggest everyone else does the same. I will also discuss with my MP whether it is possible to take legal action against the ASA for negligence, if it is, then there could be a class action waiting in the wings.

    But certainly -everyone- can make a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman so don't just sit there whining about it, DO SOMETHING! If the Ombudsman suddenly receive 30 000 letters in a week from irate members of the public because the ASA are not doing their job, you can damn well be sure they will do something about it, just dealing with all that mail is going to cost them a small fortune and take up man hours they hadn't planned or provisioned for.

    It amazes me how often people whine about these situations but they do absolutely NOTHING about it. It takes 15 minutes tops to write a letter and writing letters is -the only- way to take action nowadays. You can't protest anymore by gathering in the streets, you can't send anthrax to them in the post anymore or you are a terrorist, so hit them where they fat public money budgets are. Use up their budget so they can't go out on ISO 9001 "Quality Circles" (which basically mean an open bar in an expensive hotel for a weekend under the guise of reviewing and streamlining procedures), kill their christmas dinner/bonus funds, hit them where it matters.

    They are not allowed to throw letters away, they have to read and respond to every single one. Letter writing campaigns are by far THE most effective way to protest in the modern world. So quit whining, put pen to paper and remove your finger from your ass. Until you do, you are nothing but a waste of air.

  12. daniel

    Re: Time to take action

    Amen, Alexander.

    This has been going on for a while, but apart from the wailing, no-one has filed a lawsuit?

    Also, remember, e-petitions are nice, but when ministers start getting 4 bags of Royal Mail a day piling into their office, they *will* take more note than if a they are handed a single A4 Excel printout with site stats....



  13. Jim

    and while you're about it...

    How about getting the ASA to disallow MB=1,000,000B so that when you put your brand new 300GB drive in then that is what your OS says you have.

    And on a similar note, optical burners shouldn't be rated at ZZx if they only achieve that for the last few seconds. How about a minimum burn time instead?

    It seems that, when it comes to advertising, the truth is not required when the item/service is 'technology'

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A PIG!

    As well as expressing displeasure to your MP and the ASA you can also contact the All Party Internet Group; their site is here:

    The more noise you make, the more chance there is something will be done; and paper works better than email.

    And yes, I have already written to APIG about this and the problems transfering between ISPs, a problem I was having at the time; MAC codes use to be a voluntary system, now a MAC code must be provided by law within a certain time frame, unless there is a contractual reason why it should not.

  15. Tomer Chachamu

    ASA is AWFUL

    The ASA is a horrible group.

    I mailed them about a laptop advertised as "world's best processor" (PC World of course) with the footnote "Intel Core 2 Duo is the world's best processor for mobile use. Source".

    The laptop was using the lowest processor in the Core 2 Duo Mobile range. As far as I can reconstruct, it was the T5500, 1.66GHz, 2MB L2 cache. Not quite as good as the T7600, 2.33 GHz, 4MB cache.

    The ASA decided that because the particular processor stepping used was better than all the competitor's offerings, that qualified as "world's best processor". They didn't even realise that as I had stated, the processor (series) was used in its lowest stepping.

    Oddly enough, they related it to complaints about the TV ads saying Core 2 Duo were the world's best processors. Intel defended themselves by comparing the bottom C2D processor with the best AMD: Athlon X2 FX-62. But they're both desktop processors. How does that carry over to laptops?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hi Alexander Hanff,

    I am dyslexic and it takes me a very long time to produce a decent complaint letter - the last one tokk all day!

    Would you mind posting a template that we can adapt/use? (also might make people a bit more active!)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Unfair Contracts Act" anyone?

    It is a long time since I browsed this statute, I have a vague recollection that it is illegal to withold any part of a contract from the other party. In this case, the "fair use" policy that users are required to abide by: I have never been able to track it down on Orange's website or on the old Wanadoo one.

    On the other hand, to the best of my knowledge, Microsoft's EULA has never been challenged in court anywhere in the UK, but I strongly suspect it would fall foul of the Unfair Contracts Act, the Sale of Goods Act and the Trades Descriptions Act, amongst others.

  18. Colin Jackson


    "you can't send anthrax to them in the post anymore or you are a terrorist"

    Well it made me laugh.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well the ASA are toothless

    The ASA are toothless and a cartel. Someone needs to take this much further. I've also noticed advertisers using ex VAT prices in ads again which was said to be missleading.

  20. duncan

    minutes in a month

    According to Google, 1 month = 43,829.0639 minutes.

    or in other words, 'unlimited' means just over 2% of what would really be unlimited.

  21. Alexander Hanff

    re: Letter?

    My partner is also dyslexic so I understand how difficult itmight be for you. I will put up a letter template on my blog ( sometime in the next 24 hours along with links for fiding your MP's address and also the address of the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

    You should contact your MP in the first instance and if you are unhappy with the result you then take it to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

    As for unfair terms in contracts, I do recall reading something about ISPs being exempt for some stupid reason. You can find the information on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts on the DTI's webpage.

    It should be a fairly open and shut case against the ASA though, because clearly the packages being offered by the ISPs are not unlimited, they all (yes every ISP in the UK offering ADSL Max products) have incredibly restrictive FUPs it is impossible to argue from a logical standpoint that these products are unlimited. We just need to raise enough hell about it to get the ASA to pull their fingers out of their asses.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For ADSL, think small

    Small ADSL ISP's rock! The giants are too big to listen or care when things go wrong.

    I went with a tiny outfit salled They go by word of mouth. Get this--they don't have a sales website, they don't advertise and they still have to limit new customers--when I e-mailed sales at that address they said I'd have to wait a few days in the queue!!

    But they called me back and they do what they say. ICUKnet and Wizards have to advertise, but they seem to do the same kind of service.

    Yes, small ISPs like these will sometimes cost a couple of quid more but their techies answer the phones and they tell the truth. That's priceless in my book.

    Emma, no longer worried about size:-)

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