The UK advertising watchdog has launched an investigation into NTL's ad campaign for ntlworld, its unmetered internet offering, after the service left many customers waiting months to sign on.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched the investigation today after receiving 48 complaints from customers. The allegations ranged from existing NTL customers who said they were unable to sign up immediately, to complaints that the service was only available in some areas.
A spokesman for the ASA said: "We are investigating complaints that NTL's promotion did not make it clear that existing customers could not sign up immediately, and that the service was not available nationally. We are also investigating whether NTL made a reasonable estimation of the demand for the service."
NTL said it had no detailed knowledge of the investigation. However, it said it had spoken to the ASA regarding the strategy and the way it handled customers' queries about ntlworld.
An NTL spokeswoman said: "We have a received a letter from the ASA, the contents of which [are] confidential. We are writing to the ASA to seek clarity of comments made to the press. We have no details from the ASA about the investigation, and wonder why they haven't come to us first."
NTL said at the beginning of June that they had stopped advertising the service, but not at the request of the ASA.
Two other ISPs have also run into trouble with their services this week. 4Unet has "temporarily suspended" new subscriptions to its free unmetered service, with a spokesman saying: "We have stopped taking new registrations due to the volume of interest and while we look to upgrade our service."
CallNet 0800, meanwhile, has said it will not reopen registration to its internet access service, but will instead launch several new services later this year. The company suspended the sign-up to its web offering at the beginning of this month after customers complained of performance problems.
The new services will include one dedicated to the online games player and a low cost subscription based service providing free internet access during evenings and weekends.
Also today, ISP Claranet announced its FreeTime AnyTime unmetered package, which will be available at a yet to be specified date in the autumn. It will offer 24 x 7 unmetered access for a flat rate charge of £14.99 per month including VAT, and will be based on BT's Friaco tariffs.
Claranet will restrict initial sign-up numbers to 50,000 per month to enable it to monitor usage and guarantee customers a "first rate service".
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