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Virgin Media misled UK customers with “unlimited data” claim

A report has found that Virgin Media misled its UK customers with claims of “unlimited data” for one of its 3G packages.

According to a report from the Advertising Standards Authority, Virgin Media misled customers who signed up to one of its 3G SIM-Only tariffs in a particular advert.

As spotted by ISPreview, the report revealed that customers who signed up to the £20 a month VIP Plus Tariff were assured of “unlimited data.” However, these customers would find that if they exceeded 3.5GB of data in a 30-day period on the package, their data speeds would be throttled back to just 0.38Mbps.

Of course, Virgin Media did insert small print to get around this, claiming that customers “should expect speeds delivered up to 384kbps (3G), actual speeds experienced may be higher or lower and will vary by device and location.”

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However, the report agreed with those who pointed out that “unlimited data” is an inaccurate and misleading phrase to use in this context. As Virgin’s own small print points out, customers are very much limited, with a massive drop in data rate (Ofcom claims that the the average for 3G in the UK is 6.1Mbps) if they exceed a preset data limit.

Virgin argued that only 2 percent of its customers ever hit this limit, but that’s really besides the point – as the ASA ruling reflects.

The advert has now been banned, and Virgin Media has been told “not to claim that a service was ‘unlimited’ if the limitations that affected the speed or usage of the service were more than moderate.”

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