Complaints to the UK advertising watchdog about NTL's unmetered internet service have hit record levels, surpassing even the notorious Hoover free flights debacle.
Nearly 100 customers have complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after waiting months to sign up to the ntlworld service, twice the number of complaints made about Hoover in 1993 when the company offered free flights to New York for buyers of its goods.
NTL advertised its ntlworld unmetered internet service when it launched on 17 April, but was forced to admit last month that it could take between two and three months to clear the backlog of registrations for the service. Many customers felt the ad campaign was misleading because it did not warn about delays. NTL said it stopped advertising the service in June.
According to the ASA, it is very rare for an advertisement to receive so many complaints when it does not fall into the taste and decency category. Although customers need to submit a written complaint, the watchdog said it has also received many more than 100 complaints over the telephone against NTL.
"It is very, very rare for an advertisement to accrue so many complaints and we are still getting many calls every day about the campaign. It wouldn't be surprising if the number has risen even more by next week," said an ASA spokesman.
A spokesman for NTL said the company is in ongoing discussions with the ASA, and talks with the watchdog on a regular basis. The ntlworld service itself has received a lot of positive feedback, said the spokesman, who acknowledged the frustration of users still waiting to sign up to the service.
The ASA received less than 50 complaints for the Hoover free flights promotion, in which customers were promised a free flight by purchasing the company's washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Hoover was overwhelmed with requests for free flights, leading to complaints to the ASA that resulted in court action, although it was not concluded by the ASA.
Biotechnological firm Monsanto received 81 complaints last year for its ads on the benefits of genetically modified foods.
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